A BRADY FAREWELL
AFTER A HALF A CENTURY IN THE BUSINESS, ATLANTA’S BRADY BUNCH MOVES ON.
Byline: Georgia Lee
ATLANTA — The Apparel Mart has bid farewell to the Brady bunch — Frank J. Brady & Sons — a multiline, family-owned sales firm that closed its doors in September.
Frank and Kaye Brady, who spent 50 years in the industry, will retire from “an industry we truly loved,” Frank Brady said. Their sons, Douglas and Stuart, will pursue other career areas, as their siblings, Brian and Janet did a few years ago, after all had worked in the family business.
Frank Brady, the patriarch, was born in New York, the son of Irish immigrants. In 1948, he started his sales career with Kleinerts, a manufacturer of rubber goods, including swim caps, girdles and baby pants.
While traveling for Kleinerts, Brady met his future wife, then a buyer for a Madison, Wis., department store. The two married in 1956.
In 1962, Brady became a regional sales manager and eventually vice president of Koret of California. In 1979, he launched an independent sales firm. With a 1,200-square-foot third floor showroom, Brady was one of the Apparel Mart’s original tenants. His showroom eventually grew to a 4,000-square-foot space with seven lines.
Douglas Brady, as a Wake Forest University graduate in anthropology, asked to accompany his father on a two-week sales trip to Florida in 1980. The trip was the genesis of Brady & Sons, as older siblings Stuart and Brian followed suit, all joining the business in the following years.
Daughter Janet also worked a stint as a sales assistant for a year in 1979.
“At 13, she asked for a subscription to Seventeen magazine,” said Frank Brady. “In high school, she was voted ‘best dressed’ and ‘most radical.”‘
Brady said the most gratifying thing about his 17 years as an independent sales rep was “working as a family, and watching the children pick it up, talking about it at the breakfast table.”
Although he describes business as “strong, with strong indications for the fourth quarter,” his decision to close now was based on future considerations.
“Business is changing, with the Internet, catalogs and discounters,” he said. “It’s a more exciting world, with new opportunities, but at the same time, we’ve lost the emphasis on personal relationships, the more polite atmosphere that made doing business a pleasure.”
Asked what he would do if he had to start his career today, Brady replied, without hesitation, “computers.”
More than the lines they carried, buyers will miss their unique brand of hospitality — from the home-cooked meals and special spice teas to the smiles they always had for everyone that came in their doors.