Richter's Men's Wear celebrates 40 years
Forty years in business is an impressive landmark for a family-owned retail shop, but even more so in the increasingly competitive market for men's apparel.
However, the Richter family has risen to the challenge, and this week celebrated the 40th anniversary of Richter's Men's Wear. The officially anniversary date for the Main Street Perham shop was June 9.
When asked how he has managed to stay in the men's wear business for so long, current store owner Steve Richter has a ready response, "Lean, lean, lean, and more lean is one of the keys."
Steve Richter purchased the store from his parents, Gardy and Hilde, in 1983 at the young age of 26. He's spent the last 26 years working hard to carve out his own niche in the men's wear market.
He prides himself on keeping expenses to a minimum, and tends to the shop himself, with only one part-time employee during the summer. Otherwise, he counts on his wife and relatives to help out when needed.
"People expect service," Richter says. "How many places can you go where you get the boss to wait on you?"
It's this personal connection with customers that has helped the shop to thrive over the past four decades. If a customer comes in needing alternations, they can be done on the spot--often with only a few minute wait.
Richter credits his large and diverse inventory with keeping the men's apparel shop competitive, even in a town the size of Perham. He says the vast majority of men's shops in area cities have all closed over the past few decades, despite being located in areas with a much larger population.
At Richter's Men's Wear, customers will find everything from bibs to dress suits. Richter's also stocks a large selection of 'big and tall' clothing. "This gives me a niche business; your main department stores don't want to mess with that," Richter explains.
In addition to clothing, Richter's carries other men's products such as cologne, ties, dress and casual shoes, and work boots. The one thing Richter says is common among all his wares is a high level of quality.
He knows his customers expect quality merchandise at a fair price. "If you handle the good stuff, it doesn't come back to bite you," Richter says.
Since taking over the family business, Richter has invested more into the store's line of suits, and has found the transition to benefit business. Even in a day in age where fewer men dress up, there are still events when men need to look nice--and Richter is ready to help when the need arises. Richter's also offers tuxedo rentals for weddings and special occasions.
One of the biggest challenges Richter has faced since purchasing the business in 1983 is the rapid spread of retail giants such as Wal-Mart. Richter sees the chain stores as each taking away a piece of his potential sales, adding, "Even though they're not head to head competition, they take slices."
Richter's Men's Wear is one of Perham's oldest retail businesses. It has been in the same Main Street location since Gardy and Hilde Richter first opened shop on June 9, 1969.