You Gotta Look Sharp

A long overdue closet cleaning got me thinking about local retail.

I found the pants from one of the first suits I ever bought by myself, from Kelly Clothes in Latham. Kelly shut down in 2003, so I will never have the opportunity to ask them how I ended up with a taupe suit. Now, there’s nothing wrong with taupe — but if you’re going to have one or two suits, they should probably be navy blue or charcoal.

I also found the jacket of a snazzy black double-breasted suit from Spector’s, also more than 20 years old. The pants were MIA. Spector’s closed up shop this year after being in business since 1917; not even moving to the mall could save the clothier, facing stiff competition from big department stores and large menswear chains.

I did work for both Kelly Clothes and Spector’s during my days as a commercial producer. Menswear spots were always tough because nobody wanted to spend money on models. If you think dealing with empty suits all day is tough, try shooting video of them.

Independent bookstores get loads of ink as examples of little retailers battling for survival, but they are not the first to fight that fight. Small family owned businesses like clothing stores have been practically wiped out and nobody ever shed a tear for them. Unlike most independent bookstores, I was always able to find what I wanted at a those clothing stores.  — and they always made sure it fit just right.

4 thoughts on “You Gotta Look Sharp

  1. If you think dealing with empty suits all day is tough, try shooting video of them.

    good one!!

    add family hardware stores to your list of past retailers please

    1. Amen to that. I do get the family feeling at Lowe’s, that is to say they ignore me and take for granted that I’ll always keep coming back.

      (just kidding, family!)

  2. For menswear, the problem was not just the price-cutting chain stores, although that was part of it. People still read, and people still buy home goods and supplies, but how many people still dress in full business attire every day?

    One of the reasons why I think people don’t care that places like Kelly Clothes went out of business is that gentlemen decided they no longer wanted to wear suits to work about 20 years ago, and despite a small comeback in old school fashions, could you imagine the rebellion if employers mandated full business attire for men? Even the big menswear retailers aren’t doing so hot, and some have tried to sell cheaper goods to scratch by.

    1. True… I’m not a good example, having been the sort of schlub who only needs a suit for special occasions.

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