A story of open vs. closed – Men’s suits, ties and shoes

A tailor at work in Hong Kong.

Image via Wikipedia

A family friend of mine owns a large men’s clothing store and for the purpose of this story, we’ll call this store TuxMan. For years, TuxMan would sell suits, ties, shoes, belts, tuxedos and the like to hundreds of customers. He had great products, great customer service, and great tailors. In fact, his service was so good that customers wanted to bring in their own non-TuxMan clothes to get tailored, but he said no. His store policy was that TuxMan would only tailor clothes that were purchased in the TuxMan store. This logic made complete sense and it worked for years. After all, why would he want to do some tailoring for someone else’s product?

Well in the midst of the financial crisis his sales were on a decline. All of a sudden, businessmen no longer wanted to buy new suits. There were fewer customers in the store and lots of suits just hanging around.

So what did TuxMan do when sales started to slip?

Advertise more aggressively?

Offer insane discounts?

Nope…

They let customers bring in their non-TuxMan clothes and have them tailored by his team. All of the businessmen who no longer wanted to buy new suits wanted to get more use out of the suits and shirts they already had. So sure enough, new customers came in the door, got their suits tailored, refitted and upgraded them and then, something great happened. These new customers that did not want to buy anything new ended up buying new accessories for their non-TuxMan suits they were having tailored. Instead of shelling out a few hundred dollars for a new suit, they bought new ties, shoes, and shirts to make their old suits look new. And all of a sudden, sales increased, the number of loyal customers increased, and eventually, more suits left their hangers and went home with happy customers.

Win.

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