Schmitt’s Clothing Quitting Business After 64 Years in Downtown Beatrice

September 28, 2012

BEATRICE, Neb. – Schmitt’s Clothing, a downtown mainstay for 64 years, will sell its entire inventory and close its doors as owner Matt Schmitt announces his retirement.

The store’s inventory sale opens to the public next Thursday. Schmitt’s Clothing will be open 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. weekdays, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, and 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Sunday during the sale.

“This decision has not been an easy one to make as we’ve enjoyed success over the years and been so blessed with so many good friends,” said Schmitt, who is the third generation of his family to own and operate the store at 422 Court.

Noting that a good share of his business has been tuxedo  rental as an agent for Jim’s Formal Wear, Schmitt has arranged for a new business opening in October to become the new agent for Jim’s.  Jan Trisler will own and operate BRIO Party and Rental, just two doors west of Schmitt’s location.  “I think it’s going to be terrific for the community that there will be a seamless transition and I know Jan is going to run an outstanding business,” Schmitt said.

Schmitt’s Clothing is actually a 105-year-old business, founded by Matt’s grandfather in 1907 with the opening of his first store in Concordia, Kansas. At the company’s peak, the Schmitt family owned and operated 14 menswear stores in Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado. By the time Matt Schmitt began to work in the family business in his teens, the Schmitts had sold or closed all but the Concordia and Beatrice stores. His brother owned and operated the Concordia store until its closing about 15 years ago.

When Schmitt’s Clothing opened it was in the single building on the corner but expanded into the neighboring building many years ago. Schmitt, 62, has been planning for some time to retire in his mid-60s. When two local men expressed an interest in purchasing the two buildings last winter, Schmitt moved forward with his retirement plans.

“I started working for my dad in high school, continued through college and then worked at the store fulltime for another 40 years. Forty years in retail fulltime — and 47 total — is enough,” Schmitt said. “I’ll take a month or two off after the sale and then find something to do part-time  to keep myself occupied. I’ll have to keep busy because I won’t be able to just sit still and do nothing.”

He added, “Our customers have always been the best that anyone could ever hope for. The last 15 years have been tougher and tougher every year with more competition and the advent of the internet, which has put more pressure on sales. But the business has been good to our family, my parents’ family and my grandparents’ family. We have two sons — one is 34 and the other is 38 — and neither is interested in retail. I guess it comes to an end with me.”

Schmitt is also looking forward to spending more time with his wife, who works for the school system. “We’ll actually have summers off together now,” he smiled.



Hellman Brothers Men’s Clothing Quitting Business as Owner Prepares to Move to the Twin Cities

September 28, 2012

BISMARCK, N.D. – After more than 15 years in business, Hellman Brothers Men’s Clothing will sell its entire inventory and close its doors, owner Randy Hellman said today.

The store’s inventory sale opens to the public next Thursday. Hellman Brothers, located at 717 E. Main Ave., will be open 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. weekdays, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 3:00 p.m. Sunday during the sale.

Hellman has accepted a job in the Twin Cities as executive director of N.W. Buyers, the nation’s largest menswear buying group.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished since opening the store in 1997 and will miss so many of the good friends we’ve made during that time but the opportunity to guide a truly stellar industry leader into its 100th year and beyond was simply too good to pass up,” Hellman said.

The N.W. Buyers Group, formerly known as Northwest Buyers, was founded in 1920 to attract East Coast clothing makers to the Minneapolis/St. Paul market by combining purchases and lowering the cost of goods. Its mission today is to be “the premier competitive edge business alliance for independent menswear retailers.” It provides special group pricing and other services to help independent clothiers compete with chain stores and other large competitors.

Hellman said he and his wife began to consider the move in April as the executive director of the buyers group announced his plans to retire. “We took a look at it, sat down, prayed about it.

Hellman will assume his new role early next year and has set a tentative goal of moving his family to the Twin Cities in July. “We have two boys and we want to let them finish out the school year,” he continued. “This decision was not hastily made in any way. We have a great life here and that has allowed us to make this decision. We know the plan God has for us. He has supplied us with everything we need and we’re very grateful for that.”

Hellman began his retail career in high school and worked in a menswear store in Fargo during his college years. After working at several other stores, including a menswear store in Bismarck, Hellman and his brother decided to open their own store in April 1997 at 108 N. Fifth St.

Hellman moved the store to its current location about five years ago. “The old store had just a little over 1,000 square feet of selling space. Now, we have 3,200 square feet of selling space. That allowed us to add to our product selection,” he said.

Like any business, Hellman Brothers has experienced its share of economic ups and downs during more than 15 years.

“It’s retail; it’s always a roller coaster. But because of our great customers, the ride has been fun! You plan for the downs and celebrate the ups. We did the right thing by taking good care of our customers, always treating them fairly and that helped our business grow and succeed,” Hellman said. “We are very grateful for the 15 years we’ve had and the relationships we’ve built with our customers and the community.”


Heart of Iowa Market Place, Stone Cliff Winery Sign Exclusive Custom-Labeling Agreement in Central Iowa Region

September 7, 2012

WEST DES MOINES – A local store known for specializing in Iowa products has signed an exclusive agreement with a Dubuque winery to offer custom labeled wines in the Des Moines area market.

Kelly Sharp, owner of the Heart of Iowa Market Place, said the arrangement with Stone Cliff Winery fits into her strategy of offering more Iowa products to corporate clients. “We have a lot of fun serving our retail clients who come to our store in historic Valley Junction but a large and growing part of our business is with the corporate community,” she said. “Corporate customers need products that really help them stand out from the crowd and our new partnership with Stone Cliff Winery will give them another opportunity to really do that.”

Noting that his wines are sold under the Stone Cliff label stores by 800 outlets around the state, winery owner Bob Smith said, “We’ve been looking for the right partner in the Des Moines market to offer custom labels for walk-in customers and commercial accounts because that’s a very different product from our retail sales. When I walked into Kelly’s business, I said, ‘This is it.’ She knew exactly the plan we had in mind. In  fact, her plan was our plan.”

He continued, “Heart of Iowa Market Place will be the only store in the Des Moines market doing our custom labels, and they’ll be able to do whatever the customer wants. They’re just perfect for Stone Cliff Winery and I see this as a long-term and very successful partnership.”

Custom labels are popular with individual wine connoisseurs for special events such as weddings and anniversaries and businesses that want to feature their own brand for special occasions such as customer appreciation events and holidays.

Stone Cliff Winery, which produces 11 different wines, is owned and operated by Smith and his wife, Nan. They had lived in Colorado but returned to Nan’s hometown of Dubuque to raise their two daughters. They had intended to grow field crops when they purchased the Stone Cliff Farm near Durango but opted instead to grow grapes. They planted their vineyard in 1995 and had their first product offering in 2001. Their 10,000-square-foot production and tasting room has been located in the historic Star Brewery Building in the Port of Dubuque along the Mississippi River since 2007.

The Heart of Iowa Market Place, which opened in 1986, specializes in Iowa souvenirs and gifts. The store, located at 211 Fifth St., West Des Moines, sells gift baskets of Iowa products plus John Deere, Hawkeye and Cyclone merchandise. Its most-popular product, homemade fudge, is closely trailed by products that promote Iowans’ penchant for pigs, cows and corn.