Monday, June 24, 2013

1191 Sol and Moxey and George

1191 Sol and Moxey and George

Uncle Sol sold men’s suits in the Bronx.  Worked for Crawford which was a regional chain with about 20 stores in the four of the boroughs.  

He was a jolly man from an earlier time.  A walking ad for good looking cheap suits and the Borscht Belt.  Taught his friends and his nephew and his siblings that selling men’s suits was a respectable occupation, though not a terribly lucrative one.

It was show biz.

Remembering growing up around Sol, some things stick with you.  Like when you find a real salesman working in a suit store.  Such was the case a million years ago when Moxey worked the floor at the Men’s Wearhouse in Westbury.

Big man. Jolly.  Uncle Sol but without the Borscht.  Hands his customer a business card along with the suit and shirt and tie and socks and who-knows what else got bought that day because... of Moxey.

Card says Moxey A. Rigby.  Wait a minute.  Isn’t that a housing project in Freeport, Long Island?

Yes, says Moxey.  It’s named for my grandfather.  He was the first black judge in Nassau County, back in 1959.

Wow.  A walking piece of history!  Selling suits.  At Men’s Wearhouse.  (There’s a difference between “selling” and letting the customer buy.  Moxey sold.  But you never felt like you were being sold. )

“You ever meet that guy in the TV ads?” the customer asks.

“Oh sure.  George Zimmer. Owns the company. This is a good place to work. He doesn’t like to come to New York that much... says it reminds him of the bad old days in Brooklyn where he grew up.”

Guy builds a thousand-store empire headquartered in Houston and then, even when things like the balance sheet and traffic counts are sunny  gets the boot.  At this writing, we’re not sure why.  The conventional (Wall Street) wisdom is that the man Zimmer brought in to take over took more than over.  The conventional wisdom (Madison Avenue) is they need a “younger fresher face” in the ads.

You watch: Wearhouse has 500 hours of Zimmer video and they’re going to use it until the next century.  You watch:  the younger former customers are piling on to the company’s Facebook page, mostly using Zimmer-isms to bash the firing.

Zimmer’s famous tagline “You’re going to like the way you look.  I guarantee it” turns into “you’re going to hate the way I shop.  I guarantee it.”

For those of you with no background in corporate folklore:  You don’t fire the founder and face of a company unless he’s done something really REALLY bad.  Maybe Zimmer fits that template, maybe not.  We don’t know the whole story yet.

But look at what happened to Apple between when they fired Steve Jobs and brought him back.  Look at what happened to CBS when Bill Paley pushed Frank Stanton out the door, only to be pushed out the door himself some years later.

And look at what’s still happening to the possibly fatally wounded JCPenney when they fired the plain vanilla CEO, brought in a hot shot marketing genius, then fired him and turned his predecessor into his successor.

Uncle Sol would disapprove of this firing.  Moxey A. Rigby would disapprove.  And it looks like a lot of customers are going to disapprove.

Houston, you’ve got a problem.  Check out your Facebook page.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2013

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