Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Come Back When We Really Need One!

Man starts company, man loses company, man wins company back. A cliched romance of the best kind has occurred just when American entrepeneurialism most needs a boost!

How long ago was it when brand name retailers began disappearing from the American landscape? I can remember when Federated acquired the May company stores and brands changed forever. Marshall Fields, Lord and Taylor, Robinsons,The Bon Marche, Frederick and Nelson, Pittsburgh's Kaufmanns where I worked for a time when I was fresh out of college. Over the years it seems like everything became Macy's! Then came the downsizing and stores across the country closed.

Thinking back on this, it has been going on for years and has ultimately lead to the retail doldrums of today. Look at the names that have closed their doors just recently. Circuit City and Linen n' Things to name but two. Other specialty stores are in trouble. Ann Taylor and Talbots. Wow. Will everything end up being Macy's?

Nope. I was picking up a stack of catalogs to take out to the recycling box this morning and there sat Owner's Manuel No. 67! J. Peterman! "Wow!" I exclaimed to Hub, "Why are you throwing this out and when did they come back?" He responded with an disinterested shrug.

I remember how saddened I was when they ceased operations in 1999. Now they are back. Their catalog is iconic. It's worth getting just to read of the romance behind the clothes they carry. I even used to purchase from them though infrequently because it was expensive. The J. Peterman duster. I have the jacket length version hanging in my closet awaiting spring temperatures. It has worn like iron over the years.

What makes the story of their return even better is that the original owner has regained the rights! Good old fashioned American effort combined with some hard learned lessons has provided a most happy ending. The best part of all, the government and it's bailouts had nothing to do with it! Left to our own devices, the deserving and able will survive; those entities who lack those attributes should be allowed to fail. It isn't the brand name that's the problem, it's the people calling the shots, and as long as they remain in those positions nothing will change. Why prolong the inevitable?

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