Obituary: Shale Baskin

CHICAGO—Shale Baskin, former owner of the Mark Shale better men’s specialty stores, has died after a battle with leukemia. He was 84.

Baskin’s father, Al Baskin, opened a men’s store in Joliet, Illinois in 1929 after working for his father’s clothing shop in the town of Streator. Shale Baskin joined the family business after WWII and after going to the University of Chicago, where he met his wife of 63 years, Judith. In the early 1950s, the store was known for displaying merchandise in the open, instead of behind glass.

Three of Shale Baskin’s four sons—Scott, Michael and Steven—eventually joined the business too. The first Mark Shale store (the Joliet store was called Al Baskin Store for Men) opened in Chicago in the 1970s, followed by more Chicago and out-of-state stores opened in the 80s and 90s. The chain added a catalog and web business in 2000. After some store closings and financial trouble, the Baskin family sold the business in 2009.

In a statement, the family said, “Like his father, Shale believed in customer service and creative and interesting store design to make shopping easy and fun. The company won numerous national and international architectural and design awards over the years. Under his leadership, the business grew to be a much admired and copied concept that was known as a training ground for the retail industry. Former employees of Mark Shale are found in senior positions throughout the retail world.”

Shale Baskin retired from Mark Shale in the early 1990s. He was described by his family as a voracious reader, an avid sailor and a classical music enthusiast.

Baskin is survived by his wife, Judy, his four sons and daughter-in-laws, Scott and Jill Baskin, Brad and Janie Baskin, Mike and Felicia Baskin and Steve and Jill Baskin, and seven loving grand children, Erin, Nate, Rachel, Jake, Aaron, David and Isabel.

Memorial services are scheduled for today at 1pm at Chicago Sinai Congregation, 15 W. Delaware Place, Chicago, Ill. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to CJE SeniorLife Adult Day Services, Downtown Chicago Programs, Attn: Judy Holstein, 1015 W. Howard, Evanston, IL 60202 or Northwestern Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center, 320 E. Superior, Searle 11th floor, Chicago, IL 60611.

For information, contact the Piser Funeral Service in Skokie, Ill. 847-679-4740.

Share / Print

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Print


  1. avatarBert Pulitzer says:

    In adition to being a great retailer, Shale was also a true gentleman.

  2. avatarBill Lavin says:

    What a legacy…. You may be gone Shale, but you will never be forgotten.. Rest in peace my friend…. bill

Speak Your Mind