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What Can We Learn From The Wilkes Bashford Bankruptcy?

November 12, 2009

Wilkes Bashford opened in downtown San Francisco on Aug. 11, 1966. When the independently owned store started, it was one of only a handful of its kind in the nation. covers the story and states that although the San Francisco retailer has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, it will not be permanently closing its doors but reorganized under Mitchells/ Richards/ Marshs, an East Coast company.

Wilkes Bashford

Wilkes Bashford

Many clothiers have cut back during these rough economic times, focusing on what they think are their core values and time-tested suit, trouser and shirt brands. However, there is an obvious problem with an industry-wide move to “play it safe”, specifically, competition becomes tougher because everyone is offering the same inventory and fighting over ever-slimming margins. In times like these, consumers aren’t just looking to save money, they are looking to find value and escape if only for a short time. To excite your customers about buying requires both an experience and a product different from what they already own or can find. It requires the same individuality that they demand of their iPod choices, their cell phone models and their internet home pages.

New, fresh labels and products help separate individual stores from the pack by attracting and retaining customers who crave individuality, variety, and value in the shopping experience and garments.  iTunes, cell phones and Google all show us that while there will always be a demand for the classic standards, there will also be a demand for change and innovation. Although it may take an initial commitment and effort from a store and its staff to sell garments without a globally recognized name, the resulting consumer loyalty and financial rewards from offering quality and more interesting inventory are proven and important ways to stay competitive during challenging times.


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