Mark Shale is back in business — sort of — but this time, it’s an Internet play.
This story first appeared in the October 23, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The well-known Chicago retailer, which had an 83-year run before shutting down in 2012, has launched markshale.com, a fashion advice and personal shopping site for men and women. The site identifies what it believes are trend-right pieces and links to places where customers can buy the looks.
The current page presents tips about packing light for a business trip and recommends taking along a white dress shirt from Canali, which links to Saks Fifth Avenue, a Trafalgar leather belt, available at Nordstrom, and a light topcoat from Brooks Brothers.
“It’s fun and somewhat different,” said Scott Baskin, chief executive officer of the site and the grandson of Al Baskin, who founded Mark Shale in 1929. The site’s Clothes & Conversation as well as Fashion Finds segments are updated weekly.
Over the course of its eight-plus decades in business, Mark Shale had three tours through bankruptcy. The Baskins sold an equity stake to JOB Investments in 2009, but that failed to sustain the stores and the final three units closed two years ago. At one time, the retailer had operated more than a dozen stores around the Midwest.
Baskin said after Mark Shale closed, he purchased the name and intellectual property and has been “sitting with it” since that time. “But over the course of the last year, more and more people were saying they missed Mark Shale and asking where they could buy clothes.”
Baskin said he’s been doing “a lot more Internet shopping” himself and realized that it’s often a challenge. “So I thought, maybe there’s a service I can offer.”
He said some of the sites he links to will pay a tiny percentage to him for the referral. Eventually, “as we build viewership to the site, there might be opportunities for advertising and marketing partnerships,” he said.
The site is also hoping to launch a virtual personal shopping feature where Baskin would have a conversation with a customer and shop the Internet exclusively for them.