KOHLER, Wis. – For generations of local residents, Sheboygan County just wouldn’t be the same without Art Imig’s but what many may not know is how unique the 105-year-old retailer really is.
“We were doing some research and the census numbers we saw say only 0.008 percent of U.S. businesses reach 100 years old. In fact, twice as many Americans — 0.017 percent — live to 100 and beyond,” said Jake Toman, one of two Fond du Lac businessmen who purchased the iconic men’s clothier late last year.
He added, “A professor of management said companies that do reach 100 should truly celebrate. That’s exactly what we intend to do on April 3 to honor just how special Art Imig’s and the Imig family are and to thank the community for helping the business reach such a rarified status in the business world.”
In fact, the store founded in 1909 by Art Imig and most recently operated by grandsons Art and Bob Imig, has long been known for big celebrations that attract loyal clients from across the country. This year, Toman has a line-up of events, sponsored by American Harvest Organic Spirit, that will continue that tradition, including a 5:15 p.m. ribbon-cutting at 795D Woodlake Road with the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce.
“We welcome long-time customers, people who haven’t been through the doors before and everyone in the Kohler area and beyond to join us, starting with our premium hours from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. when we’ll have refreshments and entertainment,” Toman said.
The store at the Shops at Woodlake Kohler opened in March 1987 and has seen some of the biggest names in business, politics and sports thanks to the four championship golf courses at The American Club Resort.
Toman and his father, Ric, own DDT Clothing, a firm that specializes in retail promotions and other milestone sales events for men’s retailers across the United States. They had worked with the Imigs in 2009 for the company’s 100th anniversary and came to Kohler last fall to assist with the retirement sale for Art Imig. They ended up buying the business.
Imig worked in the family business for 48 years before retiring from the store in October 2013. He will continue to lead Art Imig’s, Inc., which owns and operates a dry cleaning, laundering and tailoring business. Bob Imig remains with Art Imig Clothing in charge of day-to-day operations.
“Independent men’s clothing stores — very good ones at that — are closing almost every day across the country. The fact that Art Imig’s has been in business 105 years speaks volumes about the way the Imig family has cared for its customers day in and day out since 1909. They recognize the importance of serving my generation and future generations, and that’s why they choose my father and me to carry on that tradition,” said Toman, who has long been involved in community service and is looking forward to becoming more involved with Kohler organizations.
“Businesses that reach milestone anniversaries often get marketing advice about rolling out a new logo or brand image or ‘updating their look to match their evolving corporate philosophy, but the fact is the Art Imig name already epitomizes excellence,” said Toman, who served in the U.S. Marines before entering the clothing business. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to drastically change things or run a clearance sale to get people in the door because Art Imig customers recognize that quality and value can and do co-exist quite nicely, especially when it comes to men’s clothing.
He continued, That’s just one reason why American-made products like Hart Schaffner Marx are so important to me. They’ll be here on April 3 to do custom suits. We’ll have another great American company, Measure Up, that specializes in custom-made shirts. And, we couldn’t be more thrilled than to have American Harvest, which distills its organic vodka in Rigby, Idaho to sponsor our event. We’re going to do our best to make the Imig family and Sheboygan County proud on April 3 and every day after that.”
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