Kales uniforms chicago-Chicago Uniform Company W Roosevelt Rd Chicago, IL Federal Government Contractors - MapQuest

A fter a decade in retirement, veteran uniform retailer Sol Kale hung out the shingle once more. Earlier this year, the Chicago Uniform Company opened its doors for the first time, selling police and fire uniforms. Ironically, the store is located in the exact spot Kale opened his first uniform store over 55 years agoat W. Roosevelt Rd. Over the years, Kale built his former business, Kales Uniforms, into a five-store operation, eventually selling the company at the age of

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Kale Uniform Store in Chicago, IL with Reviews - disneytattooguy.com

A fter a decade in retirement, veteran uniform retailer Sol Kale hung out the shingle once more. Earlier this year, the Chicago Uniform Company opened its doors for the first time, selling police and fire uniforms.

Ironically, the store is located in the exact spot Kale opened his first uniform store over 55 years agoat W. Roosevelt Rd. Over the years, Kale built his former business, Kales Uniforms, into a five-store operation, eventually selling the company at the age of Well, now hes back, at 82 years of ageless optimism, ready to play the game he helped invent, and he believes he has a new twist on his old formula.

The uniform business has always been about the uniform store, explains Kale. For anybody to go into the uniform business today though, you need an awful lot of money. Rents in good areas are very high. Inventory is a major investment. So, our approach is to combine an existing, successful menswear retailer with a new uniform retail store.

When an officer comes in for a uniform, he will also buy a suit or a shirt. Kale predicts this idea may in fact change the uniform business. He cites that many of the uniform stores today are having a hard time in this economic environment.

He promotes his approach to join with a fashion clothieras a model. As evidence, he offers the fact that, despite his new store having only been open a few months, he has fielded calls from many clothing retailers in Chicago who have inquired about opening a uniform division.

Sure, this is where the business came from decades ago with menswear stores also selling uniforms. Then they all gave up the clothing side for the more lucrative uniform business. Well, thats not the case anymore. In order to grow today in this retail climate, a store must have both. In my opinion, to be a success now, this is the way to do it. So after 11 years in retirement Kale has teamed up with a younger clothier named Ben Minowthe fourth in a four-generation menswear family business.

Eisenstein Clothing stocks all the top brands. And Ben is very aggressive. Hes smart and knows how to run a computer. Instead of sending out catalogs, we will go on the Internet for our advertising program, says Kale of his protg.

I have known Mr. Kale all my life, says Minow. I needed to move my store and asked Kale Realty if they had space available. Kale came back to me and suggested the uniform idea. My first reaction was, I have a lot on my plate already. But you know what the uniform business will bring? And even if we never make a penny in the uniform business, it may bring as many as 15, men a year through my store.

And with that traffic, Minow recognizes the sales potential for Eisenstein Clothing. The nearly year-old Chicago fashion retail enterprise buys manufacturer imperfects and salesmen samples, allowing them to sell name brands at deep discounts.

After seeing how this has been working for the past few months, I cant believe this isnt the normal operationwhere clothing stores are combined with uniform stores, says Minow.

While the product needs to be displayed in separate areas, it is such a natural. Who buys uniforms? Mostly men. And a menswear store needs traffic from men. And while the police officer or fire fighter may not have the same clothing needs as a corporate businessman,everyone needs a suit and a sport coat and pants. So we are already experiencing a feeding off each other. I cant imagine this not working. The uniform business is definitely more difficult than the clothing business.

The uniform business works on a very small markup compared to regular clothing. The competition is fierce. And it is a lot more detail oriented. I would not have thought that. I never had to deal with This patch goes on this sleeve or this nametag is this color for this guy and another color for this other guy.

For me, it is a huge learning curve. It will take some time. I could never do this without Mr. Id be lost without him. I wouldnt even know where to begin. The motivation for Kale to get back into the business was as personal as the reasons he left.

Before I sold my company, we had a big robbery. Then we had a fire. Personally, I had homes in Wisconsin, Florida and Chicago. I lived in three worlds. I was not around as much to watch my business. So, at 71 years of age, when Warren Buffet came by and offered money, I said maybe this ship would never come again, so I sold.

After I sold though, I became bored. I thought, Why did I sell? Im only 71, and Im making money. But I was so bored after I sold. I played golf. I am not a bad golfer, but then I lost interest in that. Now I am back. And I am having a lot of fun. And I would advise any of these old-timers in the uniform business never to retire.

Just fade away. Now Ive got a desk, a place to go. Of course, being Kale, the entrepreneurial bug is not satisfied by having a desk at one location. In the near future, Kale and Minow plan to open a store on the North Side of Chicagowhich will also double as a fine clothing outlet. On the uniform side, the plan for that location is to move beyond police and fire by adding products for postal customers. After that, the company will look to open a second South Side location.

A year from now, we will take over another 2, feet at this current Roosevelt Road location, explains Kale. We are jammed with inventory right now in this space, and we dont even have our full complement of apparel yet. The current store is 5, square feet and located in what is becoming an even hotter retail zone than Kale had seen in the past six decades.

In the next year and half Kale has plans to expand to 10, square feetand since he owns the city-block-long mall where the store is located, this should not be a problem.

There are also two big and tall mens clothing stores, two custom clothiers and a restaurant located on the block. River West Plaza, directly across the street, is expected to be torn down and replaced by a large Wal-Mart. Ikea is said to be moving in a few blocks east. And to the west of the location, there will be a new Target store. There are currently 10 employees at Chicago Uniform Company. The store does not have any tailors on staff.

There are two tailor shops on the block already. Instead of adding to the payrolland for the time being, avoiding any of the headaches associated with in-house tailoringthis part of the business is being outsourced. Embroidery is also sent out. The store does handle nameplates in-house, using a newly purchased computerized nameplate machine. We have a group of sharp young men, says Minow.

We are all learning the business together. They are all at the ground level of something that may be big. The good news is we came from a service business. We dont have to learn that. And I am coming to understand more and more that what these police officers and fire fighters really want is serviceperhaps even before price.

But we have to learn the product, and so, if we let the business take off too soon, I fear we wouldnt be able to handle it. So, we are purposefully moving slow. Last thing I want is for 10 people to be in the store at once while we are trying to solve problems.