Due to the recent death of owner Lou Brown, the store bearing his family name, will close its doors for good at the end of March.
Brown’s, a store for men of short stature (also known as Short Man Brown’s), has been at 1975 Avenue Rd., north of Lawrence Avenue West, since 1982.
The first Brown’s, at Queen and Bathurst streets, was started in 1928 by Brown’s father Willie as a second-hand men’s clothing store. When Lou joined his father in the business sixteen years later, Brown’s turned into a regular men’s clothing store.
Lou’s daughter Pia Brown recounts the family legend of how the business found its specialty.
The store catered to mostly men of European decent, who were generally shorter in height, and Lou Brown noticed alterations were being done to almost every garment. He saw a real need for clothing that was proportionately tailored specifically for short men, Pia says.
Brown presented the idea for a business that catered exclusively to short men to one of his suit manufacturers. He asked the manufacturer to place an order with specific proportions for jackets and pants from shoulder to elbow and from elbow to wrist, waist to rise and rise to knee, with pockets being placed exactly where they should be.
The suits sold out immediately and Brown kept reordering them, because, as Pia Brown says, he realized a proper fit is much more than simply “shortening a sleeve or shortening a pant.” Clothes need to “actually fit in the proper proportions.”
After several orders, Brown decided to open a clothing store for men five foot eight and under. When he saw how well that store did, he expanded the business to also carry clothing made for men five foot four and under, as well as an entire stout department, all with brand-new proportions. “The rest is history.”
A big part of the store’s success, Pia Brown says, was her father’s devotion to his clientele and the passion he had for his work, as well as his staff and customers, who all made the store “feel like a family.”
Brown worked in the store every day until the day before he passed away Dec. 10, 2017, at the age of 89.
His daughter is proud her dad “was so respected by his customers that the comments in the guest book [that has been available the past couple of months in the store] have been so heart-felt and warming.” They have come “from politicians to his long-time loyal friends” who all remember his gruff voice “but always with a joke,” she says.
He had a way of making every man who walked into his business feel 10 feet tall.
A “Farewell to Lou” sale is under way until the store closes at the end of the month.
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