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Finding the right fit: George's Apparel, Joseph Charles Menswear keep tradition alive in Manchester

By MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader

April 15. 2018 10:00PM
Salesman Seth Porter sets up the window display at George's Apparel in Manchester on Tuesday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)



MANCHESTER — Walter Bennett was reviewing three tuxedos brought in for alterations as well as a black suit he had purchased.

“I’ve always liked the quality here,” the Northwood man said last week inside George’s Apparel, 675 Elm St.

“I guess after 12 years, I expanded a little bit,” quipped Bennett.

George’s Apparel celebrates its 30th anniversary under the ownership of George Angelopoulos this year. At 92, he still tries to visit the shop every Wednesday.

Styles — think smaller lapels — and the business itself have changed over the years.

“We don’t sell as many suits or sports coats as we used to,” said general manager Holly Auger, whose tenure predates Angelopoulos.

For years, places selling suits have seen business people dressing up less.

George’s reacted to the changing trends by adding wedding suits and tuxedos, which make up about 40 percent of the business, according to Auger.

The biggest competition, she said, comes from outlet stores selling suits.

Salesman Jeff Richards fits at suit jacket for Walter Bennett of Northwood at George's Apparel in Manchester on Tuesday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Several blocks away, Joseph Baroody is getting his men’s store, Joseph Charles Menswear, up and running at 412 Chestnut St.

He’s selling $500 Alden shoes and made-to-measure suits starting at $995, with off-the-rack options ranging from $395 to $795.

Baroody is aiming to sell to lawyers and others suits made in the United States and is offering professional attire for women as well.

“I’m not going to get the guy going into George’s,” said Baroody, who has sold menswear since the late 1960s.

Auger said Baroody’s inventory is “more upscale” than her store.

“I don’t think he’s going to bother us,” she said.

At George’s, the busiest time runs from April through October.

“Weddings, proms, spring time, they like to come in and get a new suit,” Auger said.

Shirts are paired with ties at George's Apparel in Manchester on Tuesday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Weddings and interview suits are popular buying occasions — with chocolate gray or black the preferred color scheme to impress a potential new employer.

Suits range from $219 to $695 and often are paired with other items.

“If they come in for a new suit, they like to buy a new shirt,” said assistant store manager Jamie Gillingham.

“— and a new tie,” Auger said.

Gillingham estimated about 40 percent of the business involves someone whose family has shopped there before.

“They’ll say, ‘My father bought his suits here,’” he said.

“We get ‘em right out of high school right up to” people in their 80s, Gillingham said.

The business offers free alterations for life.

Gloria Lagos started there in 1987, and last week was at her sewing machine in the store’s basement.

“I like to do what I do; I like to sew,” she said.

The store itself dates back about 55 years to a previous owner, John Gravis, according to Auger.

Customers ask about the name and are surprised “there is an actual George,” she said.


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