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Hoffman Clothiers marks 80 years 8/1

July 29, 1999|By ERIN HEATH

In an era when large shopping centers and indoor malls rule the retail landscape, Hoffman Clothiers Inc. is a study in perseverance.

The shop at 15 N. Potomac St. is marking its 80th anniversary today as a member of Hagerstown's downtown business community.

Owner Jim Baker, who served as president of the Chamber of Commerce in 1991, said the purpose of Hoffman Clothiers - to provide quality men's wear - hasn't changed much since the store started.

Hoffman Clothiers sells men's formal clothing, sportswear and shoes. It also has a small line of clothing for women, including leather coats.

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C.K. Hoffman opened Hoffman's Style Shop on Aug. 1, 1919. He later passed it on to his son, George, who turned it into Hoffman's Inc. George Hoffman's son-in-law, who coincidentally was named Paul Hoffman, took over in 1978.

At that time, Baker was the manager of DeVono's Men's Wear in Hagerstown. He said he and Paul Hoffman were "friendly competitors" who helped each other from time to time. So when Hoffman decided to sell his clothing store in 1984, Baker became its next owner.

Reaching 80 years as a small downtown store is significant, Baker said, because he thinks large department stores are becoming more of a trend with today's shoppers.

"Our focus is on customer service and quality merchandise," he said. "We're kind of a dinosaur. There aren't many of us left with that kind of focus. Service makes us what we are."

Hoffman Clothiers has an in-house tailor who can make shirts and suits based on customers' preferences of size, style, color and fabric. The store also offers alterations to clothing, including those that come free with any of its merchandise.

Another aspect of the business that most people don't know about involves professional clothes, Baker said. Hoffman Clothiers has provided uniforms for the Hagerstown City Police, the Hagerstown Fire Department, the Washington County Sheriff's Department and such businesses as Phoenix Color and F&M Bank.

Baker also is preparing the business for competition in the next century. He's been working on a new Web site, which should be ready in October. Customers will be able to purchase items from the store online.

Baker, who has lived in Hagerstown his whole life, says he loves the community.

"I like being one to one with people," he said. "A lot of our customers become friends. You can build relationships in a business like this, and we have over the years."

To help mark the anniversary, Baker plans to give away thousands of dollars worth of merchandise.

Starting in August, Baker will hold weekly and monthly drawings with store merchandise as prizes. Weekly prizes will include ties, shirts and shoes. The monthly prizes will be larger items, including full suits. Customers can register for the drawing by filling in an entry form, but no purchase is necessary.

"We encourage all of our old friends and new friends to stop in and say hello," Baker said.

Hoffman Clothiers Inc. is open Mondays and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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