By  on November 5, 2007

ATLANTA — Caplan’s Inc. is getting out of the fashion men’s wear business to focus on its uniform and corporate identity business, and will close its North Blvd. store in Alexandria, La., by the end of January 2008. 
The 116-year-old retailer started a going-out-of-business sale to liquidate inventory last week with price reductions up to 50 percent on every item. The North Blvd. store opened five years ago. Since then, the property has become more valuable, said Brent Caplan, vice-president and GMM, and Caplan’s has been approached by various parties interested in acquiring the location. 

Additionally, Caplan said, “retail is becoming more and more of a challenge. Our uniform and corporate identity business is a viable business model, and I like it better.” 

In that business, he explained, the customer places the order and pays for it up front, then Caplan’s goes into the market and purchases what it needs. “In fashion retailing, we have to buy up front and hope someone comes into the store six months later and buys it,” Caplan said. 

“When we made the decision five years ago to build this building, retail was different, and it will be different five years from now,” he continued. He said he believes three types of retailers will eventually dominate the American landscape—the large stores, such as Wal-Mart and Kohl’s; vertical brands, such as The Gap and Old Navy; and niche players and boutiques. Online shopping is gaining ground, too. But, he said, “we’ve been in business for 116 years, and we’ve done that by adapting to our marketplace—and this is adapting.” 

The Third Street store in downtown Alexandria remains open for the uniform (mostly public safety) and corporate identity business. “It’s a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday business with no market travel and no markdowns,” Caplan said. 

David Caplan, president and CEO, said, “The decision to close our North Blvd. location was difficult to arrive at, but it is the unanimous consensus of our family.” David Caplan is Brent’s father, and Norrine Caplan, CFO, is his mother. “The past year has brought about significant change for our family, our business and the retail climate in the area. We all agreed that now is the time to focus our energies on our expanding uniform and corporate identity business.” 

A few weeks ago, Weiss & Goldring, also based in Alexandria, changed its mode of operation by moving to a smaller location and intensifying its men’s wear offering. The retailer moved out of its 30,000-square-foot store in the Alexandria Mall and into a 5,000-square-foot freestanding store in The Shoppes at Alexandria Mall. It changed its merchandise mix to 85 to 90 percent men’s and 10 percent women’s—a vast switch from the former mix of 60 percent women’s and 40 percent men’s.

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