GENEVA, Ill. – After nearly 88 years in business in the same location, Erday’s will sell its entire inventory and close its doors, president Victor Erday III said today.
The store’s inventory sale opens to the public on Thursday. Erday’s, located at 10 N. Third St., 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 4:00 p.m. Sunday during the sale.
“We’re the oldest retail store in Geneva,” said Erday, who operates the business with two brothers, Jim and Bob. “We have some people coming in who are the third generation and even a few fourth-generation customers.”
The third-generation store has seen fashion change over the years from wool suits to double-knits to the dreaded leisure suits of the 1970s and beyond, but one trend that has been devastating to independent menswear stores across the country has been the shift to a casual workplace.
“First, it was Casual Friday. Then, pretty soon every day was a casual day,” Erday explained. “Men used to wear suits and ties to work five days a week and buy at least several suits a year, but that isn’t happening anymore.”
Main Street men’s stores also have been squeezed by the rise of big-box retailers that stress self-service and low prices. Other trends added further pressure.
“The economy has been down since 2008 and, for a lot of men, clothing is a lower priority than making sure they can put food on the table and pay their bills,” Erday said. “In the past, people used to buy clothes for their sons, fathers and grandfathers for their birthdays and holidays like Father’s Day and Christmas, too. Now, they buy electronics and other things. Those different buying patterns have affected our business over the years.”
The store opened on May 1, 1925 when Erday’s grandfather, Victor Erday, Sr., a Hungarian immigrant, opened his custom tailoring shop at 8 N. Third St. “He was a master tailor. We have a couple garments here at the store that were handmade by him and we have photos of him at the cutting table. It’s pretty cool stuff,” Erday said.
In the store’s heyday, its staff included Erday’s father, uncle, four brothers, sister, 22 employees and four full-time tailors as well as him. “That’s when men were wearing suits to work every day,” he said.
All of the Erday offspring, which also include brothers Jeff and Ron and sister Susie, began working at the store early in life. “I started when I was eight years old, sweeping floors. I was actually selling merchandise in seventh grade,” Erday said. “This is the only job I’ve ever known, other than washing dishes in college for four years.”
The current store, built in 1930, fills more than 5,900 square feet and continues to offer full tailoring services. Victor and Helen Erday and their four children — Victor, Jr., John, Helen and Irene — lived above the store.
Erday and his brothers will rent out their building to new tenants. Closing a local retail landmark is bittersweet but Erday acknowledges he’s looking forward to it.
“We’re going to go from retail to being landlords,” he added. “And, I’m going fishing.”