by Karen Alberg Grossman
John Sadlier
John Sadlier

The menswear industry is saddened to learn of the recent death of John Sadlier, a long-time retail exec who spent many years at Macy’s and Federated. When MR magazine first interviewed him in 1992, he was a highly respected VP running Federated’s $1.1 billion dollar menswear business.

Sadlier started his career in 1959 as a toy buyer at Gertz Stores in Long Island. He told us he learned much from that experience: “As hot as a toy might be one season, you never go back to it the following year, Predictable things never win applause, even if they continue to sell. There’s no congratulations for tied games: you’ve got to be the winner or it doesn’t mean much.”

Reputed to be aggressive, fair, a “gut merchant” and a real straight shooter, Sadlier was known to give his buyers credit for their accomplishments, rather than keeping the accolades for himself. He was also known to be a family man. A favorite anecdote from our 1992 interview (back in the day when international phone calls cost a fortune) comes from Paul Cohen, one of his former Macy’s buyers. “I had been travelling in Europe and had to hand in my expense account to Sadlier. He looked at it and I could tell he was upset. I was sure I was in big trouble but his only comment was this: ‘I see you were away for two weeks and only called home twice. Next time, make sure you call home more often.’”

Says Larry Seltzer, who worked for Sadlier at Macy’s as a men’s DVP from 1980-1988, “Most of us work for a wide range of different people over the course of our careers. In many instances, they teach us what not to do. John’s example taught so many of us what we should be doing, as well as how to do it. He truly was the rare, always-consistent role model.”

Notes Carlo Quintiliani, who also worked for Sadlier at Macys: “John gave us all as merchants the latitude to do what we were hired to do and the consistent support required for exceptional results.”

Sums up Carl Matteo, another direct report at Macy’s, “John was a great boss and an even a better person! He taught me so many things that I used in my professional and personal life. I always felt that John ‘had my back.’ This made my job easier in a very tough business. It was something I always tried to do in my career. He will be missed: they don’t make them like him anymore!”

A wake will be held on Thursday April 21st from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and then 7 p.m. to 9 p.m at Weigand Funeral Home, 49 Hillside Ave, Williston Park, New York (516-746-4484). The funeral will be on Friday April 22 at St Aidan Church, Williston Park.

Our most sincere condolences to John’s wife Mary, his son John (and Mary) Sadlier, his daughters Maureen (and Thomas) Caggiano and Eileen (and Rick) Kasten and seven cherished grandchildren.