The owner of Straus for Men says they plan to sell off all of their inventory and close the doors. The company was found 139 years ago and moved several times through the years. The store reopened at 4487 Calico Drive South in November of 2016 after the fourth generation owners shuttered the 13th avenue location shortly before. Owner Chad Herring says the decision to close was helped along by changes in the choices in men's clothing.
The full press release can be seen below:
STRAUS FOR MEN TO SELL ENTIRE INVENTORY, CLOSE
AFTER 139 YEARS AS OWNER ANNOUNCES QUITTING BUSINESS SALE
FARGO, N.D. – Straus for Men, founded 139 years ago and recognized in the past as the state's oldest retail business, will sell its entire inventory and close its doors, owner Chad Herring said today.
"It's been a lot of fun, but I'm a fairly pragmatic person," said Herring, who is a fifth-generation owner. "It's been a great experience, but when it became apparent that the market has changed, we had to make some tough decisions."
The store's inventory sale opens to the public on Thursday. Straus for Men, 4487 Calico Drive South, will be open 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4:00 p.m. Sunday during the sale. The business will resume its regular hours next week until its remaining inventory is sold.
The company got its start in 1879 when Adolph Sternberg, a cousin of M.G. Straus, opened the family's first retail store in Sanborn. Sternberg moved that store to Valley City when it became the county seat. Ninety-five years later, that location became the Straus Mall. In 1897, Straus arrived from Ohio and bought a store in Casselton as Sternberg opened a new store in Sanborn.
When Sternberg died in 1907, Straus purchased the Valley City store and sent his nephew, Herman Stern, to manage it. By 1920, Straus had retired to San Diego, leaving Herman Stern in charge of the Valley City store and Morris Katz to lead the Casselton store. The next generation of Sterns entered the business in 1932 when Herman's son, Ed, began working as a salesman in the Valley City store.
In the midst of the Great Depression, the family purchased the Esquire Shop in Fargo in 1936 with Ed Stern as its manager. The store moved to a larger site five years later and expanded again in 1950. The company's 1955 purchase of an existing men's clothing store in Grand Rapids was followed by its 1963 acquisition of another store in Jamestown.
Disaster struck on Easter Sunday 1963 when fire destroyed the Straus for Men store in Fargo. That store was rebuilt and opened for business again in 1964. In 1979-80, the company opened a second Fargo location – this one in West Acres Mall – and the Valley City store was up-dated with the innovative Straus Mall, one of the area's show-case retail establishments. Ed Stern's sons, John and Rick, joined the management team during this period.
Between 1980 and 2000, the company consolidated the local store into one location while closing stores in LaMoure, Carrington and Devils Lake. Between 2001 and 2015, John and Rick Stern opened a contemporary men's clothing store, AKA, in a downtown location and later merged it with the 13th Avenue store. The fourth-generation owners announced their retirement in 2015, putting the company on hold. Herring, who is John Stern's stepson and had worked for the company more than 20 years earlier, and his wife, Dorene, reopened it in November 2016.
"The company I had worked for moved its administrative offices to Denver and I took some time off to think about what I wanted to do next. I thought about what I had enjoyed doing over the previous 25 years and kept coming back to my time at the store," Herring said. "John and Rick had had a retirement sale more than a year earlier and I asked them if they'd be interested in me carrying on the legacy."
When Herring received a positive response, he and his team shifted into high gear, converting their current location from a shell with a gravel floor to a decked-out store in six weeks and three days. The new Straus for Men opened on Nov. 30, 2016 and this week's decision to close was fueled by all-too-familiar forces in today's retail sector.
"Changing clothing habits was part of it," said Herring, noting that people do not dress up for work and formal events as they did in years past. "Online shopping is another part. Those were a couple factors in the store missing our projections."
With his full focus on the store closing, Herring hasn't decided what's next for him but he knows he will miss the store's many loyal customers. "We're committed to finishing the right way. We want to take care of our customers, partners and community as best as we can. Through the process of this final sale, our attention to detail, quality and customer care is not going to change. That's what the old store was built on and what we've tried to carry on, and we're not going to give up on that now."