Mark Shale files Chapter 11

by Harry Sheff

CHICAGO—Mark Shale has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection again, the third time since 1995. As we reported a week ago, the three-store better men’s chain had furloughed its buying and marketing staff in July. Our sources said that the retailer, which is about 60 percent menswear, was doing well with men’s apparel, but may have had some difficulty with its women’s business.

Mark Shale president Rich Myers commented in a statement, but didn’t shed any light on the causes of the retailer’s woes.

“We have tried since Mark Shale was acquired to ensure the lasting success of this 83-year-old Chicago icon,” Myers said. “The company has always sought to bring quality and outstanding service to high-end fashion. We are proud to have some of the most experienced and loyal employees in the business, from sales associates, to tailors, to warehouse staff, to buyers and managers.

“Unfortunately, in the current economic environment and despite our significant efforts over the past few years, we have concluded that a Chapter 11 filing was the Company’s best alternative. We continue to seek a strategic partner to fortify the business. In the meantime, all three of our stores – at 900 N. Michigan Avenue, Oakbrook Center and Northbrook Court – will, as always, provide the highest level of service to our customers.”

Mark Shale had filed Chapter 11 in 2009 and closed five of its eight stores. The retailer got financing a few months later from from a Chicago private equity group called JOB Investments LLC.

Mark Shale was founded in 1929 by Al Baskin as Al Baskin Store for Men in Joliet, Illinois. Al Baskin’s son Shale Baskin took over, and ran the chain with his three sons, Scott, Mike and Steve. The first Mark Shale store opened in the 70s in Chicago, and more Chicago and out-of-state stores opened in the 80s and 90s. The chain added a catalog and web business in 2000. Scott Baskin retired as CEO in July 2011.