David Kositchek’s humility and hospitality have kept his fourth-generation business going strong.
“I grew up here—I started working at the store as a child,” remembers David Kositchek, fourth-generation owner of Lansing, Michigan’s Kositchek’s. “I was so proud to work with my father and my grandfather.” While Kositchek can’t imagine doing anything else, he recognizes that he’s more than just a menswear merchant. “I’ve always said that we’re in the clothing business, but more importantly, we’re in the hospitality business. It’s about making people feel comfortable the moment they walk in the store, like a guest in your home. I think that would be true for any successful store these days.”
Kositchek’s, which was founded when Lincoln was President, celebrated 145 years in business last fall. Its current location is just steps from the Michigan state capitol, something Kositchek thinks accounts for its success in tailored clothing (price range: $350 to $1,895) and dress furnishings. “We’re about split in half between sportswear and clothing in an 8,000 sq. ft. store,” he says. “Some of that is our shoe department and hair salon. We hang over 1,000 units between suits and sportcoats. We have five tailors, and they’re busy, so clothing really drives our business. I think we’re an anomaly; most other retailers I talk to are more sportswear driven. We’ve always been known as a suit store. It’s the backbone of our business.”
The store is also known for its huge neckwear assortment. “We always have over 2,000 ties at any time,” Kositchek boasts, listing Dolcepunta, Robert Talbott, Carrot & Gibbs and Duchamp, opening with Barbara Blank and Private Stock. The key to a good neckwear business? “To me it’s one word: color,” says Kositchek. “It brightens up the store and adds so much personality to every aspect of our displays and windows. And there isn’t a display here that doesn’t have a pocket square. You can make such great impact statements with neckwear.”
Kositchek’s stages lots of small events and three big ones. “June 9th [was] our second annual ‘Dapper Dads,’ a charity event for the local hospital, probably the biggest employer in Lansing. The goal this year was to raise more than $80,000 for their women’s health center. Last year we raised $40,000.” Local businessmen model clothes from Kositchek’s and solicit votes for themselves through their industry contacts.
“It’s been a learning curve for me, putting on all these events,” Kositchek admits. “But today you have to be in the events business to create excitement in your store.”
Kositchek is soft-spoken, but his enthusiasm is infectious. “There are a lot of reasons to get down these days, but I try to stay positive. It’s the way I look at life, not just my business. I don’t watch too much television news and I skim the newspaper, especially when there are sad stories, because I have to stay upbeat.”
Advice for someone new to the business? “Concentrate on building relationships with your vendors. Try not to over-resource your store. I’d rather have fewer and be more important to the ones I have.”