As the saying goes, you can’t really call it work when you truly love what you do. And if that’s the case, Larry Dykhouse, a retail buyer turned tailored clothing rep (for only three great companies in 38 years), can say he’s never worked a day in his life.
His college years pointed to a job in education; he was planning to be a history teacher and football coach. But a part-time college stint with a great mentor—David Mandel at William Klein Store for Men in Grand Rapids, led Dykhouse to a long and happy career in men’s clothing. “Mandel was an amazing man, having come to this country after surviving the Holocaust. He would take me on buying trips and teach me the ropes. In 1977, I was a full-time buyer: having fallen in love with menswear, I never looked back.”
But always seeking new horizons, Dykhouse ultimately went to work as a road rep for Schoeneman in 1981. (Mandel became one of his best customers.) In 1995, he moved on to Zegna, working with Bob Green, Richard Cohen, Bob Denton, and Giles Preston to build the iconic Italian brand into a U.S. powerhouse.
Around 2009, Richard Cohen recruited Dykhouse over to Robert Talbott where he stayed until the company disbanded in 2019. “By that time, I’d had enough of road trips so when Jerry Girod, owner of Fitzgerald’s in Grand Rapids, offered me a position there, I gladly accepted. Talbott had been their number one brand and my mission became to fill that void. It also gave me an opportunity to work with my good friend David Abbott, which has been a real joy.” Abbott returns the love. “Larry mentored me for more than 30 years in the men’s clothing business. He knows so much and is a terrific guy: I feel lucky to have worked alongside him for these last two years.”
Says Larry’s wife Lori of her ever-traveling husband, “Through his entire career, Larry has always been a devoted family guy, somehow managing to be around and available for all events and occasions. I don’t know how he did it but he was always there when we needed him.”
Dykhouse insists he’s not leaving the industry due to its precarious post-pandemic state. “Having turned 66, it just seems like a good time to retire, to spend more time with family and friends, to do some leisurely travel. But my prediction for the menswear business is positive: although big city specialty stores have been the hardest hit, these are exceptional merchants who are figuring out how to make their stores even more special. As for suburban stores, several have set records in March, April, and May. Between postponed weddings and pandemic weight changes, men are needing and wanting new clothes. And as we all know, men are not casual shoppers, they are buyers. All you have to do is get them into the store.”
Larry can be reached at email@example.com; we wish him much happiness always.