Thursday, November 19, 2009

An Educated Consumer

Sy Syms died Tuesday. One of the earliest apparel off-price retailers whose tag line was “An Educated Consumer Is Our Best Customer”, Syms is largely responsible for one of my main dilemmas in retirement—what should I do with all the suits and sports jackets I no longer am required to wear?

When I started working in Manhattan in March 1977, I owned two suits, a light brown corduroy suit and my blue wedding tuxedo. Work on Park Avenue mandated a more extensive business wardrobe, but my salary at the time dictated a prudent approach. Through my sister-in-law Annette I discovered the value of being a Syms shopper, especially if you obtained a Syms credit card. Only by using the Syms credit card could you get your money back if you returned any purchase. Otherwise, you’d get a store credit. That was a deal clincher for me, as anyone aware of my shopping habits knows I am the consummate return artist, almost never fully satisfied with anything I purchase. No matter how good the deal, I’m always comparing prices and value in subsequent stores I visit.

Shortly after Syms opened a store in Westchester not far from our home I became a real clothing addict. The compulsion to buy and buy even more got more complicated when Syms opened a store one block away from my office about 10 years ago.

I’m embarrassed to say that even though I haven’t bought a suit or jacket in more than a year, currently hanging in my closet are 15 suits and 22 sports coats and more dress pants, shirts and ties than I care to count. There are outfits for all seasons, but the hard numbers cannot be glossed over. Even when I go to synagogue I rarely wear a suit, though as stated in a past blog, I do wear socks.

Yes, I could, and have, donated clothing. But I still can’t totally accept that this retirement gig is permanent, so I’m reluctant to part with my stash of threads. I figure that as long as I don’t gain or lose too much weight (I have lost a few pounds in retirement), I won’t have to buy any new tailored clothing, regardless of my future status.