by Karen Alberg Grossman



I love your passion for the business and I agree with you that so many of the recent changes in the industry do not bode well for independent stores. Kudos to you and your team for hanging in there, for intensifying your customer service and for focusing on fashion brands that don’t sell direct to consumers. I think it’s a winning formula that will likely ensure your survival.

That said, how can I as editor of MR magazine reprimand those vendors that have chosen to sell direct?  Unfortunately, there are too few sizable menswear independents left in America on which to base a business. Selling directly to consumers is a far more profitable venture for these brands and the only way many of them can stay afloat. It’s not right, it’s not fair, but it’s simply the way things are. I wish we could go back to those good old days but since we can’t, let’s just continue to innovate, and do what we do better than it’s ever been done. That’s our strategy on MR magazine and you, apparently, are doing just that in your store.

My prediction: after too many months/years of shopping online, consumers will crave some personal contact, some genuine attention from sellers who truly care.


Please share with us your insight into current business affairs, we love hearing from you! See Mr. Rose’s letter original letter here.


  1. I’m not sure why “it’s not right and it’s not fair” for brands to sell direct. I’m also not sure why there’s an implication that online retailers don’t offer “genuine attention from who don’t truly care.” I would love to hear why there’s this sentiment. I’m sure there are a few examples but I can probably do the same for many bricks and mortar stores as well.

    The good online retailers very much give attention to their customers. And they truly care about them too. Why would you think otherwise? Simply because they sell online?

    And why isn’t selling direct fair? Businesses need to find the most profitable ways to do business. If it turns out that selling online is more profitable than selling wholesale at half the cost to small retailers, why is that “not right” or “unfair”? Many brands have found great marketing professionals to help reach the customer directly – and they pour in a large amount of money into marketing to get those customers. Why should these brands then not be able to sell to those customers directly? Many brands sell online to control their own destiny. Seems like a smart business plan to me.

    My apologies if I’m coming off as aggressive but I can’t help but take these comments personally as an ecommerce retailer. I’m a huge fan of independent stores and I think they do many things well – but why knock brands for trying to do the same? That, ironically, seems unfair.

  2. Great discussion! Thanks to Karen for embracing the topic. This could only happen on MR-mag. Brand management is the real issue here, and the business models have now changed. Perhaps less so for specialty store retailers. Because the name on the storefront, and the expectations of that brand, is still probably the greatest asset of a physical store. Even though I work today in both wholesale and retail worlds, I grew up as a retailer. And I remember on the weekend when the local Nordstroms had their grand opening, there was a parade of vendor reps that visited my father’s store for the very first time. He graciously thanked them for coming all the way to Kansas City, and he never bought from them again. Was he being petulant over their display of favoritism or was he being competitive? I’m not sure, but ultimately, it forced a well needed reexamination of the product selection. Resulting in a fresher and younger looking store. Anon makes an argument for brands to have online direct selling. But what was not discussed is how brands are using online flash sale sites like Gilt.com and Hautelook, which are far more aggressive than the direct selling sites.

    By the way, Chelsea has the best contemporary storefront I have ever seen. May it see another 45 years!

    George Arvanitakis
    Byron Clothing

Comments are closed.