After more than 18 months in virtual hibernation, friends, and fans of Ventresca Ltd. in Doylestown, PA were ready to party! (Well, truth be told by president Frank Ventresca, most were ready to party while some loyal customers called to congratulate him but were not yet ready to socialize…)
Still, the mood was exuberant this past Sunday as 200+ captains of Industry, sports stars, head coaches, and tons of friends showed up to celebrate the third-generation tailor and star merchant, who graciously shared the store’s 40th-anniversary party with the March retirement of his long-time, well-loved store manager Tyrone Ebo.
Asked about business, Frank pulled no punches. “Last year was God awful but we’re now doing great, honestly better than ever.” What accounts for the resurgence? Frank doesn’t hesitate, “Lots of pent-up demand, rescheduled weddings and events, and more vaccinated people longing to recapture life.”
He goes on to explain that Ventresca is and has always been a clothing store. “We hang 400 suits – 38 short to 54 long – at all times (we’re low on inventory now) plus we’ve got a healthy custom business. I’d say tailored clothing is a good 40 percent of our volume; our best-selling OTR suits range from $899 to $2,000; over that we sell custom. Prior to the financial crisis in ’08, we were all Italian product and had no trouble selling $5,000 Brioni suits.”
Ventresca also sells lots of sportswear, shoes, and accessories. “We’ve grown our lifestyle business: we have a luxury customer who is educated and well-traveled. They have multiple homes so they need multiple wardrobes.”
Clearly an optimist, Ventresca points out that office buildings are just starting to open up so he expects even better business ahead. His success secret: “You have to embrace new technology and trends. And you have to diversify: 22-year-olds graduating from college can’t wear an old man’s silhouette. You have to balance fresh seasonal product with in-stock programs. But more important than inventory, you need great people who are passionate about the business. Without the right personnel, you don’t keep customers.”
Other success secrets: a large rental business (tuxedos and suits in a separate section of the store with its own dressing room and full-time staff), talented on-site tailors, and the fact that his store is “big enough to be important but small enough to be nimble…” And the often-articulated secret that many verbalize but few actually espouse: “Take care of your customers and all else takes care of itself.”
Congrats Frank: you inspire us all! Here’s to the next 40.