by Karen Alberg Grossman

why-menswear-market-loves-beallsBealls-Collage-1“Building a business requires teamwork and they are great partners! They know the meaning and benefits of strong vendor relations. What’s more, they have kept their eye on creating exceptional value; they are dedicated to delivering branded apparel for all family members at exceptional pricing. And they go after newness and innovation to keep their assortments fresh and exciting.” – Angela Dobbs, Hanes

“In 1903, Bradenton, Florida was incorporated, taking its eponymous name from a doctor whose wooden homestead was refuge for early settlers. Those settlers were in need of clothes, shoes, hats and gear. No one knew those residents better Robert Beall Sr., who displayed his wares on empty packing crates and founded his first dry goods store, downtown. The Bealls still remember the boon times, the crash, the migration of customers from north of the Mason-Dixon line, and the tenacity of residents whose grandparents settled in Bradenton. This legacy provides a wealth of unique knowledge along with a versatile skill set to weather and master changing times. Congratulations to Bealls. In this disruptive retail environment, authenticity and local expertise matter more than ever.” – David J. Katz, Randa Accessories

“Bealls Has Thrived because of its unique ability to understand their customers’ desires and aspirations and then connect them to the appropriate brands. The unique alignment between the Weekender brand and the Bealls customer results in extraordinary sell-thru rates, margins, inventory turnover, repeat business and evangelical customer satisfaction. It’s a feeling like ‘they get me’. Over the years, many department stores like Zayres, Jefferson’s, Montgomery Ward, Uptons, J Byrons, Mervyn’s, and even some existing national chains have come to Florida thinking they could just offer the same nationwide cookie-cutter merchandise – only to suffer at best, extraordinary markdowns and at worst, bankruptcy. Bealls management and men’s merchandising teams currently led by Steve Knopik, Robert Beall, Matt Beall and Troy Hedgecock have fended off every one of these rivals. In recent times, despite the fact that Florida was among the hardest affected, they successfully navigated through the great recession. In our travels throughout the Bealls store system, we are most impressed with the quality and passion of its legion of experienced retail salespeople who best reflect the Florida lifestyle. We believe that they are the unsung heroes in Bealls’ success story. E.R. Beall, founder of Bealls motto was “Always do what is right”. We have found this to be true as a menswear vendor in each and every meeting, encounter or agreement over 53 consecutive years. The Weekender/Bealls relationship has been and continues to be one of the most productive and profitable vendor/retailer partnerships in modern retail.” – Abe Rudman, Sportailor Inc.

“The Beall family has always operated a quality business with quality people. Bealls unique culture, in combination with a deep understanding of the markets they operate in and the consumers they serve, is directly related to the incredible consistency and success of the company from generation to generation. With the highest level of respect for the heritage of the business and a focus on evolving for the future, we expect Bealls to continue to flourish in the years to come.” – Abbey Doneger, The Doneger Group

“We’ve been doing business with Bealls for a number of years and appreciate their unique niche in the market. They’ve been a great partner in all our initiatives, supporting us with real estate and featuring in-store appearances with Guy in their stores. But the best part of working with Bealls is their unique corporate culture: from Matt Beall through the entire team, they are so down-to-earth. We have a very strong relationship with their management team. And with their buyers: Jillian McVeigh does a tremendous job creating great assortments for all their stores. With our brand, it’s not so simple: there are different sensibilities from market to market so that Tampa/St Pete is very different than Vero Beach/Port St Lucie. Even in terms of types of fish: there are different species in the gulf than in the Atlantic and to maximize topline sales, they want to get it right.” – Harvey Taulien, Guy Harvey

“They are definitely the “Florida” store, compared to the big national chains. They know their customers, cater to them and it’s working, as evidenced by performance on their selling floors. Their assortments feature the best board shorts in the market, as well as performance swimwear and walk shorts. Katie Heath has been terrific in executing a new structure to showcase young men’s; Matt Beall is a forward- thinking executive who’s challenged his team to showcase the best.” – Ian Soto, Hurley

“Bealls knows how to do Florida-right product for their customers: not just the stereotypical straw hats and shorts but things like custom tumblers and great sheet sets. National chains don’t often get it right; the buyers at Bealls are truly talented!” – Chuck Ramsey, Columbia Sportswear

“Bealls has come a long way in the 30 years that I’ve been calling on them! Their team is exceptional: they’re good people, good merchants, who understand their customers because they live their lifestyle. This is very different than trying to figure out a Florida business when you’re based in New York or Charlotte or Milwaukee. Their stores are mostly in strip centers in small towns and they’re not trying to be something they’re not. What’s more, they’re open to change. A couple of years ago, Matt Beall recognized that 50-year-old customers today are different than 50-year-olds were 30 years ago. They’re health-conscious, fashion-conscious, they work out. This was a tremendous realization: they couldn’t keep selling banded bottom knits. So they’ve switched to lifestyle presentations rather than classification merchandising to reflect changing customer needs. Realizing that Bealls wouldn’t survive based solely on price wars, Matt and his team have made significant inroads and it’s working. I give Matt tons of credit for initiating change and also for bringing in executives from Belks and Kohls to execute the strategy.” – Richard Wright, Izod Golf

Bealls-Collage-2“The team at Bealls is a pleasure to work with: they know how to plan for profits. Their unique business model enables them to get higher AURs than the competition. Their stores are neat and organized with associates available to help customers, unlike other mid-tier stores that are more of a treasure hunt. Jan Longo and Chrissy Cavanough are fantastic people, great merchants and a pleasure to work with. Matt Beall is a humble and classy guy: grounded and intelligent. He’s worked in every aspect of the business starting at the bottom, and he’s created a family atmosphere based on respect for the customer. We have soft shops in many of their stores and I love to watch couples come in together. Sometimes the husbands head to a seating area where they drink coffee and read the paper, sometimes they both shop. But whichever, shopping at Bealls becomes an entire morning event, an enjoyable social experience.” – Lisa Ostrowski, Haggar

“Bealls consistently finds, offers and sells brands, styles and values that resonate with snow birds, and Floridians in general. They really know their customer. I love their understated, yet dynamic merchant teams. And the fact that I can wear my Bermuda shorts to buyer meetings. Now, if only they provided Budweiser and bought our accessories deeper and more often.” – Al Jasman, Randa Accessories

“Bealls is the premier Florida department store that successfully caters to Floridians and everyone else who visits the Sunshine State. They are great partners; our long-standing relationship with them continues to grow.” – David Colescott, Champion

“The Bealls team is delightful to work with! We collaborate with them on several Branded and Private Label neckwear programs that differentiate them from their competition. They understand their customer, and buy/create product that is right for their unique marketplace. What a concept!” – Dave Klaus, MMG Neckwear

“Bealls customer loyalty is evident in their strong Ecomm business: snowbirds who move back north in the summer continue to buy from Bealls’ online. What’s more, the Bealls buying teams can take pride in how they offer their customers great Florida assortments at fair prices. This same sense of fairness is evident in how they deal with their vendors, building strong and trusting partnerships over the years. Based on our partnership with them, we go out of our way to cater to their unique needs, e.g. making seasonal merchandise available to ship for fall/winter selling.” – Wade Knott, Lee Jeans

“Two things make Bealls special: 1) They’re not a public company so they don’t have to worry about meeting quarterly sales and can invest to best serve their customer; and 2) They cater completely to their Florida customer, even differentiating assortments between residents and “sunbirds.” In fact, they’ve identified numerous Florida lifestyles and have set up in-store presentations that appeal to each segment.” – Jack Voith, PEI Golf

“The team at Bealls is truly amazing! I’ve been doing business with them for many years and I’m always impressed with how well they know their customers and how everything they do is so clearly targeted to their casual Florida lifestyle. Their presentations are powerful: they do a terrific job of editing to show the best of the best. Their advertising, both online and in newspapers, is inspiring and resonates strongly with their customers. What’s most impressive is that they don’t copy other stores: everything they do is unique based on the customer in that particular part of Florida. And rather than just accept market offerings, they’re not shy about asking for what they need, whether it’s shorts year-round or a particular type of fish printed on graphic tees. They are incredible partners: friendly, nice, fair, strategic. You can feel the strength of that partnership by how well they present your brand and how they’ll discuss things with you first before they go about changing direction. Bottom line: I love them! We do business with a lot of stores but I have a soft spot for this team; they consistently rise to the top.” – Ellen Levy-Ganz, Caribbean Joe

“On a personal note, I was fortunate recently to have been invited, with my dad and our golf division president, to share a home-cooked dinner at Matt’s home with his dad and family. It was a memorable night of bonding and comparing the commonalities of our two businesses: both multi-generational, both family-run, both Florida-based. It was a very special evening for me.” – Oscar Feldenkreis, Perry Ellis International

“Bealls is an outstanding company and Matt Beall is doing an exceptional job, always looking for newness and giving the vendor a chance to test product in key doors. Troy Hedgecock is an extremely talented merchant who always has an ‘open-to-look’ and is always seeking out the next big thing.” – Stewart Golden, Tailorbyrd


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