Author: MPS Blogger
Date: November 27th, 2013
This Small Business Saturday, Experience Tacoma’s Local Shops
As you must know, Experience Tacoma loves everything to do with enjoying local retail shops, restaurants, and other small businesses in our humble city. Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Small Business Saturday. A day set aside to celebrate the economic backbone of this great city and beyond.
Though big box and online retailers like Wal-Mart and Amazon command market share in the U.S., small businesses comprise 49.2% of private sector employment. Here is some inspiration for us to continue giving small businesses our support this Small Business Saturday and the rest of the year so that they can help us by making our economy strong.
Jimmy Au’s For Men 5’8’’ and Under was born from a unique vision. Jimmy tailored for other stores but found it difficult to fit suits to men taller than his 5’1’’ frame. He figured that he could turn this disadvantage at traditional tailor stores to an advantage when in 1961 he began selling fitted suits for shorter men out of the trunk of his car in Hawaii. Later moving to Los Angeles in 1971, Jimmy found that he could attract a loyal customer base, unified by short statures, with superior service and creating an experience that would make customers never think about shopping with another tailor.
The store was renamed Jimmy Au’s Small and Short: Tailors and Fashion in 1975. His son, Alan, discovered that the name deterred men from coming into the store because they would be embarrassed coming into a store with the negative terms “small” and “short.” The name was changed and Alan remodeled the interior of the store as well. Shelves were shortened to accommodate the eye level of a 5’4’’ man. Also the smaller mannequins were placed in the store to replace the 6’0’’ originals.
Today with Alan’s changes, Jimmy Au’s For Men 5’8’’ and Under is hugely successful. Television and film frequently buy from his shop with many of our favorite short actors coming to buy a unique and stylish Jimmy Au suit. Jimmy’s store is a shining example of the successful small business.
Ira Kalb, professor of marketing at USC’s Marshall School of Business, says Jimmy Au’s ability to successfully fill a niche service for a specific customer base is key for small businesses in a market dominated by online and big box retailers: “You create this idea that you’re a boutique and that you specialize,” Kalb says, “That will draw people from a much wider radius than you would if you were just going to a chain store.”
On the 28th, come with us to experience Tacoma’s small businesses and help them become successes long into the future like Jimmy Au’s For Men 5’8’’ and Under. The experiences that you will have perusing Tacoma’s small businesses will be unforgettable this Small Business Saturday!