LE MARS — Noting that his clothing business has thrived for 25 years in the face of constantly changing consumer demands and new waves of competition, the owner of Claussen’s said today that he is planning a special celebration next week.
Terry Claussen, who co-owns the store with his wife Lori, notes that all small businesses face daunting obstacles to success, but independent men’s and women’s clothing stores have borne the brunt of several unfavorable trends in recent years.
“Thirty percent of all new businesses fail in their first two years and another 20 percent don’t make it to their fifth year. Only one-third of businesses reach their 10th birthday and that number drops to a quarter by the 15th year,” Claussen said. “Main Street clothing stores have been hit hard by competition from big box stores and online marketers and, especially, by the evolution of the casual workplace.”
Those market forces have claimed thousands of independent clothing stores across the nation since the early 1990s, including stores in Sioux Center, Sheldon, Orange City, Hawarden, Sibley and other area communities.
“Things change. I’m not saying that’s good or bad; it’s just different. Knowing our industry’s challenges and the fact that it isn’t easy for any small business these days. We’re proud to have made it this far and thrilled with the amount of support we’ve received from Le Mars and our customers throughout northwest Iowa,” he said. “A 25th anniversary is worth commemorating and celebrating — and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
Claussen said the store is holding a special sale that is open to the public on Thursday, Oct. 22. Claussen’s, located at 10 Central Ave., NE, will be open Thursday and Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 4:00 p.m.
Claussen’s history in the men’s retail is even longer than the life of his store. Growing up near Rock Valley, he had just finished his first year at the University of Northern Iowa when a family friend, Clayton Arend, offered the young man a part-time position in his clothing store. Claussen worked at the Rock Valley store during breaks and over the next few summers. He earned a teaching degree from UNI but he, Arend and another partner purchased a clothing store in Sibley.
“I was the ripe old age of 22 in 1978 and got married to Lori that same year. We were raising three kids in Sibley when we got a call that the Le Mars store was up for sale. We made the move and it was a good decision. Le Mars has been very good to our family and business over the years,” Claussen said.
Claussen said the store’s client base comes from a radius of at least 25 miles around Le Mars, particularly to the north and east. Northwest Iowa’s traditionally strong economy has eliminated many of the highs and lows that his counterparts across the country have experienced over the years.
“People might talk about the national economy or national problems, but whatever is going on in Plymouth County is what counts for us. Business has stayed pretty steady for us since we’ve been here because we have some very good companies like Blue Bunny and a lot of manufacturers in the area,” Claussen added. “One big reason is our customer service. We have really good employees who take great care of our customers. And, people know we go that extra mile, like coming down to open the store when someone needed the appropriate clothing for a funeral or a wedding at the last minute.”
That’s a special touch that Claussen doesn’t foresee changing any time soon.
“Twenty-five years is a long time, but it’s just a start,” Claussen said. “We plan on being here for years to come.”
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