Rothmans, a men’s wear retail institution in New York City for nearly a century, will open a new concept store in suburban Westchester County in August.
Ken Giddon, president of the family-owned business, told WWD that he has signed a lease for a 1,000-square-foot store in Bronxville, N.Y., that will be called Harry: A Rothmans Project.
“Harry is a tribute to my grandfather, who truly was a legend in the industry, but his name is being forgotten as many of those who knew him are now gone,” Giddon said. “He was a scrapper, coming from a destitute family on the Lower East Side and a push cart of rags to build a major New York City retail store. He passed away without ever knowing that I continued what he had started.”
Giddon said that unlike the company’s 11,000-square-foot flagship on Union Square in Manhattan, Harry will focus on sportswear and gifts. “There won’t be one suit in the store,” he said.
Instead, it will be a “curation of our curation” and will offer only a handful of the vendors that are sold in the flagship.
“We probably have 75 vendors in New York City, and we only want 10 to 15 good ones in Harry,” he said.
He said because the store is “much smaller than we’re used to, we will use it to experiment with new brands. We’re taking a lesson from the pop-ups and will have short engagements. That will keep it interesting to men in a small town.”
Since the New York City store relocated to 18th Street and Park Avenue South in 2012, it has hosted a number of pop-ups within its site including Olive and Bette’s, 7 Diamonds, Lanai Collection and S’well Bottles.
“It’s definitely going to be different,” Giddon said of the Bronxville unit. “The men’s business is changing very rapidly — both from a product mix point of view and from the supplier/retailer relationship. Independent, fast-changing, curated retailers can still be important, but they have to be nimble and creative and willing to experiment with technology and ‘showrooming.’ This new concept gives us more freedom where we can experiment and veer away from some of our traditional ways of doing business.”
Rothmans also operates a 3,500-square-foot store in Scarsdale, N.Y., that opened in 2003 and includes Lubins, a boys’ store, as a sub-tenant.
The Bronxville store will be located at 60 Pondfield Road and will be operated by the manager of the Scarsdale unit.
Harry Rothman opened his first store in 1926 on East Broadway on the Lower East Side, which replaced the push cart he had started on Delancey Street in 1914. The store became one of the city’s most popular discount stores for over 60 years but closed after Rothman’s death in 1985. The business was then resurrected a year later by Giddon, a bond trader in Boston who had been called upon by the family to liquidate his grandfather’s store. In 1986, Giddon reopened as Rothmans Union Square, which started as an upscale discounter but has since morphed into a less price-sensitive men’s store.
“Our business is fine,” Giddon said. “But it’s changing all the time. We’re selling less tailored clothing and we’re now the largest specialty store account on the East Coast for several denim brands. We didn’t even sell denim two years ago.
“We’ve gotten good at those things because we have to,” he continued. “The younger customer cares less about buying a suit that lasts 10 years. If I were a guy selling $2,000 or $3,000 suits, I would be rethinking what I’m doing.”