Danny

Super Member
1,708
United States
Maryland
Baltimore
Britches, Raleighs, Garfinckles, Woodies and Hechts all closed in succession the moment I moved here in the early 90s.
Well Hecht's was here until 2003 or so I think. I bought my most recent pair of Weejuns there. I remember Britches very fondly, great store, both the regular one and 'Great Outdoors'.
 

The Rambler

Honors Member
4,726
DC is such a vibrant, consumer-driven market that it's a little hard for me to understand the high rate of retail business failure. My first real business job, long ago, involved me in the liquidation of Farnsworth-Reed, mentioned above. Huge quantities of third-rate stuff was brought in, had the venerable Farnsworth-Reed label slapped on it, was way overpriced at "50% off" and unloaded in massive quantities in a year long "going out of business" sale.
 

Mazama

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
243
United States
wa
Winthrop
The Georgetown University Shop was great. It was owned by Tom Saltz who originially owned Lewis and Thomas Saltz's shop in downtown DC. With Tom's aging and wish to get out of the business the store went under. I am not sure if he sold it before it closed.
In the 1960s Lewis and Thomas Saltz was a prototype traditional men's clothing store in downtown DC about a block from the Treasury Department and two blocks from the White House. Every Wednesday, as I recall, they ran a small advertisement, of the sort now posted here as examples of class Trad style/advertising, on page A2 of the Washington Post which I studied as a style model. Sounds like they may have closed in the mid-to late-70s.
 
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bsteinbach

Starting Member
2
Georgetown University Shop and Lewis & Thos. Saltz

I thought I would offer some comments as I have personal knowledge, my father Heinz (Henry) Steinbach having worked for Saltz for 34 years, some 23 as its VP, general manager and head buyer.
The brothers Lewis and Thos. Saltz first had a business in DC called Saltz brothers that was located on F St, I believe more or less where Raleigh's later had a location. That closed and they later, by sometime during the early 40's opened Lewis & Thos. Saltz at 1409 G St., later expanding next door into 1411 G. It became the premiere men's clothing store in DC, although a shout out should be given to Arthur Adler and Raleigh's before they became more of a chain.
In about 1955 they sold out to the Steen family out of Chicago - Enoch Steen had a number of clothing businesses (see Enoch Steen collection at
http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives/AC0206.htm ). Lewis died not long thereafter. Son Richard Steen came to DC to be the president of L&T - son Bill went to SF to run Bullock and Jones, a similar store there. My father started running the business on a day to day basis. By the early 60's they had a store at Connecticut and K as well, and had added a women's department at 14&G. Connecticut Ave. expanded and added a women's department later in the 60's, then was reduced for a few years in the early 70's during construction of the Farragut North Station.
I worked there myself (marking, receiving, some sales) during holidays and summers in high school, college and law school. The clientele was impressive. In addition to JFK's inaugural top hat coming from there http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/6YljblQ9MEO8P6ST3iGaOQ.aspx LBJ was a customer - I was there once when he came in as VP not long before he became president, and as president there was a picture of him pointing to his label - as well as many members of Congress and Supreme Court Justices from Vinson to Burger (who I met there just before I took my LSAT).
In late 1970 they opened a store in Friendship Heights, where Brooks Brothers is now, that included a gift shop as well as a women's department. This did very well and offset some decline in the G St. store due to cut and cover Metro construction in front and general downtown decline after the riots. (A footnote to history - the closest the riots got to the White House was when the windows of the G St. store were broken into and ransacked). I worked there a fair amount and remember a lot of diplomatic trade (obvious because of sales tax exemptions). We wrote up each sale on a ticket, added it ourselves - including the tax - and then took it to the register. A big change was when we started taking credit cards in addition to a store account.
In late 1978 the Steen family decided to liquidate their holdings - there was also a sister and they wanted to divy up the holdings. Saltz was sold to a group headed by Ted Lerner and Sonny Abramson of Tysons fame (and the Lerner family now owns the Nats). Lerner was then building White Flint and wanted to bring Saltz into what was then to be a very upscale mall. There was also interest in moving into Tyson's itself - certainly a Virginia location made sense. They brought in a guy to actually head the operation whose name I forget who had been head of Sun Radio, which had gone under. White Flint opened but really only took away from Friendship Heights. The new management and my father lasted about a year - it seemed to my father that they did not want to make money and in particular the guy that came in did nto seem competent to him. Anyway, by summer 1979 my father was forced out. (He later landed at Britches in the finanical side of things and helped their very successful 80's performance under their founders until he died in 1988 - after the founders left, Brithces foundered). Saltz went downhill after that. It was sold again to some folks out of Tennessee; all but one store closed by 1985 and the last one, Connecticut Ave., soon thereafter - the last owners talked of going into the made to measure business but that went nowhere. The name is still used by these folks for other businesses. The fixtures for Conn. Ave were bought by a Korean who has Christopher Kim's on M St and around 21st. He has a very nice shop, not quite on a par but similar in style and service.
Meanwhile, Tom Saltz had bought the Georgetown Univ. Shop and ran that with his wife. As he got older, he wanted to sell but lacked a long-term lease. So he opened a store around 1979 in the old Friendship Heights shopping center (where Clyde's and Giant are now), which made sense in light of Metro coming in. A few years later he sold the business. I don't know how long the FH store lasted after the Georgetown store closed. Having Brooks Bros. so close probably did not help. (BB moved into this market in the late 70's).
Saltz featured Hathaway shirts in their prime but also sold Troy Guild and, during annual sales at least, Jacobsen as well as some private label. Suits ranged from Haspel (great seersucker in the days before universal air conditioning) up to top of the line Oxxfords. French Shriner and Johnson and Murphy shoes as well as Bass Weejuns and Wallabees when they first came out. Countess Mara, Liberty and other tie lines.
Those ads - for many years Saltz ran its daily ad on the page opposite the editorials. When the Post decided to have a full op-ed page with no advertising, it offered Saltz a page 2 position. It stayed there until at least the end of the 70's.
Anyway, thought those who read this might appreciate the musings.


 

Mazama

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
243
United States
wa
Winthrop
Thanks, Mr. Steinbach for sharing your memories of the interesting and detail history of Louis & Thomas Saltz.

Your narrative reminds me that I did shop with them out in Friendship Heights when I was in DC for a few months, although the "experience" was nothing like that at the old downtown shop, as era that is forever gone with the wind.
 

CMDC

Honors Member
3,604
United States
DC
Washington
Thanks so much for the musings. I've obviously got a great interest in this history given my location and it's great to have some blanks filled in. I come across a lot of these pieces while thrifting and am lucky enough to have some in my rotation.
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
31,190
Harmony, FL
United States
Florida
Harmony
^^
LOL. Rambler, you could have tried to soften the blow just a bit, perhaps saying, 'defunct is a rather harsh way of looking at it but, they have cut way back on their merchandising efforts(?)!' ;)