[attach]5982[/attach]During his early days in sales at Korry’s Clothiers to Gentlemen in 1952, Saul Korman persuaded a bank manager to invest in his Danforth business.
“I had no money, young guy, just got married,” he says. “I convinced him to lend me 10 grand. I was a pretty good sales person even then.”
Korman, who has been dubbed the Duke of the Danforth, says he and his father Nathan initially wanted to name the store after their last name but then found out a family member in North Bay already had a store called Korman and Co.
“We could have registered in Toronto but then my dad said maybe we’ll expand,” he says. “So a vending truck went by called Carry’s and I looked at my dad and said what do you think about Korry’s?”
Although he says most other clothing retailers disappeared since they settled into their current location on the Danforth near Pape Avenue in the early 1970s, he says he wanted to remain in the area and decided to focus on promoting the neighbourhood.
“I thought I’d convince them that the restaurants are good here,” he says. “So if you listen to me I’m very community oriented. I talk about Greektown, the Danforth.”
Korman, who was honoured by the Retail Council of Canada last year for his longstanding contributions to the community and the retail industry, says radio and a chance meeting with CHUM radio personality John Gilbert helped make the store what it is today.
“I was asked to do a radio show and it was a two-hour talk show and I built my whole business on that,” he says. “I did wardrobe analysis. Men hate to shop, that’s why they bring their wives, they’re scared to make a decision. That’s how I built my business.”
In addition to offering a collection of designer and private label goods, he says everyone on staff is trained as wardrobe consultants and can advise clients on clothes coordination and wardrobe maintenance. The store also has an in-store tailor shop for alterations and made-to-measure custom wear.
Reflecting on the last 60 years of running Korry’s Clothiers, he says a highlight has been meeting the many celebrities that have frequented the store, including Rick Mercer, Rick Nash and Elvis Stojko, who are all displayed in a photo wall in his office.
He says doing charity work, including a partnership with Tim Hortons Cold Stone Creamery in May, which saw $2 of each ice cream sold in his name donated to Toronto East General Hospital Foundation, has been another memorable experience.
“When you give, you get back,” he says. “That’s probably the highlight of my life.”
Along with providing individualized customer service, he also attributes their success to their sales staff and tailors, as well as being family oriented. He says his sons Shawn and Michael both work with him at the store and he hopes his children and grand children will carry on the tradition for another 60 years.
“The retail market has shrunk,” he says. “On this street alone there were 33 clothing stores, now there are two so it’s not an easy business and we’ve been lucky and blessed.”