hree of our favorite menswear merchants, who have given up a leisurely life on the golf course for endless hours on the selling floor, share a few secrets.
Bernard Lansky, founder of Lansky’s in Memphis in 1946, original tailor to Elvis Presley:
Bernard Lansky is not one to mince words: “Money Talks, Bullshit Walks, When You’re Broke You’re a Joke.”
Adds his son Hal, who also works at Lansky’s in the iconic Peabody Hotel in Memphis. “My father’s energy is contagious! He loves the art of the sale and the thrill of the game; he’s still got a youthful spirit about him and most people can’t believe he works non-stop in the store at 80 years old.
“He loves meeting people: no one who walks into the store is a stranger. With a third generation now in the business, Bernard is a great mentor, teaching my daughter his unique style of selling and running a successful business.”
Harold Wiesenthal, founder of Harolds in the Heights, Houston, in 1950: The store has grown from 1200 square feet to 15,000. They are still clothier to President George Bush #41:
“What keeps me going is that I enjoy my customers: I know them personally and often, I know a few generations of their family. It’s wonderful how many people still truly appreciate a family business and the great service that goes with it!
“The other reason we’re still around is that we own our building so haven’t had to deal with rent increases. And our neighborhood is getting more upscale: houses that were $10,000 and $20,000 are now selling for $400,000 and $500,000! Plus we’ve got a big parking lot…”
Milton Julian, founder of Milton’s Clothing Cupboard, 1948, Chapel Hill (and Charlotte), famous for pioneering Ivy League in the South:
Celebrating his 90th birthday among friends, family and vendors at the Charlotte market recently, Milton Julian has tried to retire several times from the retail business he founded in 1948. But so many of his customers still depend on him for their wardrobe needs that Milton, who now lives and works on his farm, can often be seen trekking around town selling clothing. “I wanted to retire but people still call,” he explains, “so I’m still involved in personalized direct selling.”
His secret for longevity is a simple one: “I don’t smoke or drink; well, not more than three or four glasses of wine a year…"