ELVIS’ FAVORITE MEMPHIS MEN’S WEAR STORE CELEBRATING 60TH ANNIVERSARY THIS YEAR
Atlanta- It’s been 60 years since Lansky Bros. Men’s Shop opened its doors at 126 Beale Street in Memphis, Tenn., and the celebrities keep coming to have their pictures taken with Bernard Lansky, the store’s patriarch who, at 78 still runs the show.
Lansky and his brother, Guy, opened the store in 1946 at the end of World War II as an army surplus store, but changed to accommodate customers who wanted a one-of-a-kind look. It became the fashion headquarters to musicians including B.B. King, Isaac Hayes, Jerry Lee Lewis, and David Porter, and attracted Elvis Presley, who helped establish Bernard Lansky’s title of "clothier to the king."
The retailer has been in the lobby of The Peabody Hotel since 1981 and currently has a handful of stores there. Bernard bought out his brother’s share in the store in the 1980s. Guy died last year.
"Our store has evolved into a lot of different things, and we have a third generation in the store," said Hal Lansky, president, who is Bernard’s son. Julie, Hal’s daughter, is buyer for Lansky 126, a premium denim store that carries Ben Sherman, Robert Graham, Lucky, Lacoste, True Religion, Penguin, and other upscale brands.
The other stores are Lansky at The Peabody, a men’s wear store that carries Robert Talbott and Vineyard Vines neckwear, Hiltl jeans, shirts by Nat Nast, Equilibrio, Enro, Tommy Bahama, and Tori Richards, and other categories, and upscale brands; Lansky Lucky Duck gift shop, which has a theme based on the famous Peabody ducks that stroll into the lobby twice daily; Lansky Essentials, which sells newspapers, magazines, gifts and necessities; and Lansky Logo Shop, which offers items with the Peabody hotel logo, including robes, toilet cases, golf balls and golf towels, visors, and t-shirts.
To celebrate its 60th anniversary, Lansky’s was the subject of a black and white calendar published by Memphis Heritage. January shoes a picture of a young Bernard with an even younger Elvis in the Beale Street store in 1956. February is a picture of the store’s exterior in 1946. There’s a photo of Isaac Hayes and David Porter being assisted by salesman Tommy Craig in 1971. Lansky said 4,000 copies were printed, and he sent approximately 1,500 of them to customers. Others were sold at a local Barnes & Noble bookstore.
Back in September, Bernard was honored as the latest addition to the Peabody Duck Walk of Fame. His plaque, which features his name under two bronzed webbed feet, resides on the sidewalk along the perimeter of the hotel. The Peabody was celebrating its 80th anniversary.
Hal Lansky said the company will celebrate its anniversary this year with an event in May or June.
In addition to telling stories about Elvis Presley, who was a regular shopper at Lansky’s, Hal said Johnny Cash’s first black suit came from Lansky’s. "He came in and saw a Prince Albert tobacco can on the counter and said he wanted a suit just like the one on the can," Lansky recalled.
Recent visitors to Lansky’s include Mike Love and Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys (in town for the Liberty Bowl game), Robert Plant (who was with Led Zeppelin) and Isaac Hayes. A gallery of pictures on Lansky’s web site show Sheryl Crow, Katie Couric, Billy Bob Thornton, Priscilla Presley, Joe Esposito, Bill Murray, and Richard Roundtree- many of them posing with Bernard Lansky.
Hal Lansky said the stores had a great year in 2005 with sales up in the double digits, and he’s looking for another strong year in 2006. "We have the FedEx Forum, where the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies play, and a minor league ballpark nearby. People come in town to those stadiums from all over the world visiting as tourists," he said. "They all want to see the famous Peabody ducks and Elvis’s home."