by Karen Alberg Grossman

MR magazine is saddened to report the passing of Jack Abelson, a menswear retailer, consultant, and contributing writer for several industry publications. He was 73.

Jack was born and raised in Rochester, NY, attended the University of Michigan for his undergraduate degree and UC Berkeley law school. He and his wife Betty were married in 1968. While in law school, Jack worked part-time at Grodins, a menswear chain in the SF Bay Area; during that time, he fell in love with fashion merchandising and decided to make it his career. After graduating from Berkeley, he was offered a position as an assistant buyer at Grodins, eventually becoming president of their Tannery West division, then vice-president of Wilson’s Leather before becoming a retail consultant.

Jack truly loved the fashion industry. He wrote constructively critical articles about retailing in a number of publications, including MR magazine. He was always impeccably dressed and, according to his wife Betty, would often say to their sons, “Never apologize for being the best-dressed man in the room.”

Jack retired in 2018 to spend quality time with his wife: traveling, walking, reading, and going to the movies. According to Betty, Jack loved hanging out with sons Matthew and Philip, their wives, and five wonderful grandchildren. “The University of Michigan sports were a true passion of his,” Betty told us. “He ended every conversation with our sons and grandchildren with, ‘GO BLUE!’ Jack died peacefully on May 16th, 2020 after a four-month battle with cancer. He was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend. “

As one of Jack Abelson’s editors and admirers, I will miss his gracious personality and astute observations on the business. Case in point, from a guest editorial Jack wrote for MR magazine in 2015: “I have a great idea: let’s have a one-day nationwide retail event when nothing is on sale and all merchandise in the store is exciting, compelling and magnificently displayed. All stores are staffed with well-trained, enthusiastic, informed sellers; there are no markdown racks to check before bringing out beautiful product. Even in outlets, there are no added price incentives so the race to the bottom is suspended, at least for a day. Can you imagine the joy for consumers who are finally treated properly? I can.”


  1. Karen

    My immediate thought is of an evening spent with Jack and Arnie Karr (obm) right after 9/11, lower Manhattan still spooky.

    We had dinner and went to see David Byrne at The Bowery Ballroom. Alas, two of the truly good guys are gone.

    I had the pleasure of going to a Michigan fooball game with Jack about 10 years ago. To say he was a rabid fan understates the effect Ann Arbor had on him. I will miss our hour long conversations on UM sports, the industry and politics immensely.

  2. Jack was a true professional as a buyer and merchandising exec for Grodins . If he gave you a verbal order you could take his word that he would get it ok’d and signed off by his boss Sol Salk . I worked and spoke with Jack for many years and always enjoyed his thoughts , taste level and overall feel for the Men’s fashion business . He knew it inside and out . Gone way too soon ….R I P Jack

  3. Jack was a dear guy, always positive. His upbeat style and enthusiasm for the business will be missed.
    My condolences to his family.

Comments are closed.