Remembering Harold's - The History of Harold's Clothing

Harold’s store, named after Harold Powell, is a specialty store that sold high-end classic style men and women’s clothing. Today, Harold’s is 80 years old, having been established in 1948 in Norman, Oklahoma. It would later move it's operations to Dallas, Texas.

However, the original establishment had to close down in 2008 after a bankruptcy liquidation. At the time it shut down, it had over 600 employees, a number that was less than half the number of employees it had a decade earlier. But now, the clothing brand is making a come back.

Here is a brief history of Harold's.

The Beginning

When Harold’s first began, it had a single 900 square-foot store location close to the University of Oklahoma. It would expand over time to have several store locations in the US. From the beginning, the company had a strict policy regarding the products it stocked. In particular, they would be sourced from the UK, Italy and the Far East.

The company also limited its vendor numbers to maintain the quality standards of the items bearing the company’s label. Harold’s was also very keen on noticing the latest fashion trends, and stocking the latest fashions before its competitors.

Their First Store Outside Oklahoma

The company opened its first store outside Oklahoma in the 70's; and in Texas of all places. Even the executives were skeptical about its income prospects. However, they were in shock when the store turned out to be the most profitable they had.

Obviously, this made the company realize that it had plenty to gain from venturing beyond Oklahoma. In the 80's, a store was opened in Jackson, Mississippi. The decade was characterized by an expansion strategy that saw the opening of many stores.

In the late eighties, the company went public.

The First Catalog

In 1990, Harold’s released its first catalog. To the company’s management, this was an opportunity to improve sales, collect important market data, and promote new store openings. A lot of merchandise was sold in this manner. For instance, by 1997, more than $8.8 million of its products were sold using the catalog.

But while still making the best of its catalog idea, the company was still trying to improve sales in its retail stores. This included opening new stores and moving existing stores to more promising locations. The company also regularly offered deep discounts on its products to attract customers and boost sales.

Unique Customer Service Set the Store Apart

The stores also stood out for the fact that customers were offered drinks while they shopped. This was despite the fact that the company was still offering deep discounts that people would not expect when getting this level of service.

Additionally, the company forged new business partnerships to increase its bottom line though cost savings. For instance, its partnership with CMT Enterprises Inc in 1995 meant that the company would receive products bearing its designs and pay a commission on them for better cost savings.

Rapid Expansion

By early 1997, the company had opened over 40 stores in 18 states in America. Like the first store, these stores were usually near colleges. Additionally, they were close to shopping centers and malls. To say the least, the company managed to grow considerably in the 90's. In fact, it managed to grow its sales from just under $50 million in 1993 to over $100 million in 1997.

Over these years, the store’s main goal was to establish a wholesome shopping experience for its clients. This centered around the provision of high quality products and having an extensive list of items on its catalog.

Eventual Bankruptcy Liquidation of 2008

But the realities of a dynamic business environment made the company’s profitability a challenge. For instance, the company had to suffer through a serious dip in sales in 1997. So serious was the drop in turnover that the company had to change its strategy and make cost-reduction a priority.

In the end, the clothing store ended up in bankruptcy in 2008. It claimed that a faltering economy and growing competition had left it with no other option. But at its peak, the company had reported sales of $150 million and had over 53 stores in 22 states.

Harold’s Today

But the bankruptcy would not be its end. Today, the store is making a comeback. It’s focus is still traditional, high-end classic clothing for men and women. Fortunately, Harold’s clothing and apparels are still popular among fans of the clothing styles the company promotes. That is why, even today, there are general online clothing stores that stock Harold’s clothing.

In short, Harold’s apparel and clothing still have a place in the fashion market, and with the help of today's technology and online marketing, they'll be able to grow once more.