Here is the full text of Sunday’s Retail Roundup column:
A Salem men’s clothing store that is celebrating its 45th year in business will close within the next few months.
Thompson’s Men’s Clothing Store on East Main Street will close as soon as it has sold its inventory, store owner Frank Thompson said.
Thompson, 77, grew up working in his father’s clothing store in Chatham. When he decided to open his own store, he considered Norfolk, Richmond and Northern Virginia as potential locations because of the large populations in those areas. But he found himself turned off by those locations and instead settled on Salem, where he opened Thompson’s in 1968.
Thompson has operated his clothing store in the same building since then.
Over the years, he carved out a niche in the men’s clothing market by serving hard-to-fit men who couldn’t find suits elsewhere.
“We kept getting calls about large, tall and short sizes,” he said. He began special ordering suits for hard-to-fit customers, and word spread.
Thompson’s store is one of 91 members of Big and Tall Associates, a nonprofit trade association that holds buying shows for retailers.
Thompson said he hasn’t seen much change in the business throughout the past four decades. The biggest change, he said, is the trend toward more casual clothing.
“People used to buy three to four suits a year just to go to church in,” he said.
In the mid 1990s, men began dressing more casually, and his business slowed. He began selling sportswear to adapt to the changing times.
Thompson would like to sell his business but said he hasn’t had any interest. If a buyer doesn’t step forward before the inventory is sold, the store will close by June, he said.
“I’m just getting to the age I can’t do it anymore,” Thompson said.
Big-box bookstore set to close
The Books-A-Million store at Crossroads Mall in Roanoke is closing April 13.
A manager, Donny Horn, said he didn’t know why the company decided to close the Roanoke store. A Books-A-Million spokeswoman did not return calls seeking more information about the closing.
The Birmingham, Ala., company’s financials show that Books-A-Million lost money in the quarter that ended Oct. 27. The book seller reported a net loss of $2.8 million on sales of about $105 million, compared to a loss of about $4 million the same time period a year earlier. Comparable store sales were down 3.6 percent. More current financial information is not available.
Discounts at the Roanoke store will continue to deepen as the closing date nears. Last week, books and magazines were marked down 20 percent, general merchandise 30 percent, and stationery and greeting cards 50 percent.
The 36,000-square-foot building is for lease, said Jake Copty, a leasing agent for Thalhimer, which manages the property.
“We are certainly excited about the fact that we’ve had a lot of activity on Hershberger Road,” Copty said. “It’s a valuable spot.”
The property owners, a group of investors from New York, are open to redeveloping the property, Copty said. That could include a major renovation or tearing down the building and rebuilding, Copty said.
Books-A-Million closed its Blacksburg store at the First & Main shopping center about a year and a half ago. The closures leave Barnes & Noble as the only big-box bookseller in the region. Several locally owned used book stores remain in business.
The publishing industry has been struggling the past few years as it competes with online retailers such as Amazon and as e-books have gained popularity.
According to a report by the Association of American Publishers, sales of e-books doubled in 2011 from 2010. The report found that brick-and-mortar stores remain the primary sales channel for books. Publishers’ revenues from bookstores doubled in 2011 from 2010 to top $1 billion, according to the report.
Hartman expands repair services
Audio-visual retailer Lee Hartman & Sons has serviced cameras, DVD players and televisions for years. Now it also fixes cellphones, computers and tablets, including Apple products.
The retailer got into the business of repairing small electronics, especially Apple products, because there are few places in the region that provide that service, said Jessica Hines, marketing coordinator for Lee Hartman & Sons.
The store’s technician can repair cracked screens and water damage and change batteries in iPhones, Hines said. She recommends the repairs for consumers whose electronics are out of warranty. The store is not licensed through Apple to make warranty repairs.
Lee Hartman & Sons is headquartered in Roanoke and operates six stores in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina.