“I’m sorry” is not the phrase Ed Steinberg expected to hear on announcing next month’s closure of his menswear store in Baltimore, which has been in business for 38 years. “We’ve had our retirement planned for 2+ years now. My wife Diane has worked with me since the early days at the store. She was a teacher but switched to managing all the books, all the marketing, all the communication, and emails. The timing is particularly appropriate since our lease is ending, the retail business model is changing (more direct-to-consumer) plus pandemic challenges helped confirm our decision.”
That said, Steinberg admits that it’s bittersweet since he’s truly loved this business: both the rapport with his customers, colleagues and staff, and selecting the right fashion for his somewhat conservative clientele. “Baltimore has never been an extreme fashion city,” he explains. “There’s no Saks, no Bloomingdale’s, one Nordstrom, and only a couple of remaining independents. That said, the business has been good to us and I have no regrets. (Well, maybe I should have pushed harder to buy my own building early on…) But I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished, winning Best in Baltimore for 15 years, getting acknowledgment in Esquire, and forming many wonderful friendships.”
Always an industry leader with great ideas (creating a private label for specialty stores early on, working with vendors to channel business to the independents, conceiving a “ZoomWear” department within his store), Steinberg is closing with a bang: his top 500 customers (of a 4,000-person mailing list) will receive VIP cards to pre-shop his Retirement Sale today and tomorrow while the store is officially closed (by appointment so visits are staggered and safety measure can be applied). “Our staff has been terrific, setting things up and making personal phone calls to our top customers, mostly to thank them for their business.”
Going forward, Steinberg plans to travel, spend more time with family (a daughter, son-in-law, and grandson locally; a son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren in L.A.), rejoin a few boards and associations, perhaps do some consulting with the Chamber of Commerce or else on his own, and generally enjoy life. After 54 years in the business (38 at his own store, 16 prior at a menswear chain), he certainly deserves it!
Congrats Ed and Diane; wishing you happiness always.