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.