Ta­maqua cloth­ier busi­ness turns 95

The Republican Herald - - LOCAL - BY JIM DINO STAFF WRITER

TA­MAQUA — In an era of on­line shop­ping and big-box stores, Ralph Richards is buck­ing the trend.

But in his corner he has the per­sonal ser­vice his store, Charles X. Blocks, has made a tra­di­tion for 95 years, which he is con­tin­u­ing.

To cel­e­brate the an­niver­sary, a cus­tomer ap­pre­ci­a­tion evening will be held from 4 to 9 p.m. Thurs­day. Charles X. Blocks will also be show­ing off its newly com­pleted in­te­rior ren­o­va­tion.

“We will be kick­ing off the Shop Small Christ­mas sea­son,” Richards said. “It’s our way of thank­ing our cus­tomers for a fab­u­lous year of busi­ness, and it’s a fun way to cel­e­brate our busi­ness’ 95th birth­day this com­ing year.”

Charles X. Blocks is about cus­tomer ser­vice today as much as it was in 1923, when Char­lie founded it, and son Ted op­er­ated from 1964 to 2010, when Richards pur­chased it.

“Cus­tomer ser­vice is where we lit­er­ally win the game ev­ery day,” said Richards, a home care phys­i­cal ther­a­pist who still prac­tices for Le­high Val­ley Hos­pi­tal-Ha­zle­ton. “We try to al­ways be com­pet­i­tive on price, but the ex­pe­ri­ence of you walk­ing in, some­one greet­ing you, of­fer­ing you cof­fee or a wa­ter, telling us what you need, mea­sur­ing you, not just say­ing, ‘Shirts are over there, help your­self,’ It’s a per­sonal-led ex­pe­ri­ence, from the mo­ment a gen­tle­man, his wife or who­ever comes in un­til they leave.”

Blocks still be­lieves the no­tion peo­ple want to see and un­der­stand what they are buy­ing.

“Some­times today, peo­ple will go on the in­ter­net and order 15 things and they like one of them, then they have the has­sle of send­ing 14 things back,” Richards said. “We’re ed­u­cat­ing our cus­tomers as we are putting them in what­ever it is they want. Here, you can look at it, feel it, maybe see an­other size of it. Maybe you came in for a coat and thought it was one size, but it was an­other. Peo­ple say, ‘I want a coat that fits. I’m used to go­ing to the big box stores and keep try­ing on coats

un­til it fits my shoul­ders.’ But now the sleeves are down to here. We try to teach them did you ever think about a short? What does that mean? We’re putting them in a gar­ment that is de­signed for their bod­ies.”

Cus­tom or­der­ing — some­thing the big box stores or on­line buy­ing might not of­fer — is a Blocks tra­di­tion Richards is con­tin­u­ing. This is es­pe­cially im­por­tant to the hard-to-fit per­son, he said.

“Blocks also car­ries a large va­ri­ety of sizes, in sport coats, suits, pants and sweaters.

“Big and tall is what we do. It is a niche I think we do very well,” he said

Blocks still does tuxe­dos, which Richards said, “is our cor­ner­stone.” But even that has changed.

“We are full ser­vice. That is some­thing I in­sist on,” he said. “The rea­son is our so­ci­ety has be­comes less for­mal. We even do denim wed­dings. Peo­ple have de­cided to get mar­ried in barns. Shame on us if we didn’t keep up with the times. We had to go with what our de­mand was.”

The store also of­fers a tai­lor­ing ser­vice, as well as shoe re­pair, leather re­pair and zip­per re­pair, On the rack, there are shirts for a lo­cal res­tau­rant and a po­lice depart­ment which have taken ad­van­tage of Blocks em­broi­dery ser­vice.

“No mat­ter how ex­pen­sive or in­ex­pen­sive, it is still tai­lored free — hem­ming sleeves, what­ever — if it is pur­chased in our store,” Richards said. “Now, in 2017, we have added women’s seam­stress ser­vice, by ap­point­ment. Our seam­stress meets with them oneon-one.”

The store has also added women’s ac­ces­sories and sweaters to its board of fare.

“We’re ex­cited about our new line of ladies items, in­clud­ing hand­made hand­bags, wraps, ca­sual blaz­ers, sweaters, scarves, jew­elry and hand-milled soaps,” said Jeanette Richards, Ralph’s wife and co-owner.

“Our women’s purses and bags are by far our big­gest seller for the ladies,” Ralph said. “In al­most seven years, we have sold be­tween 800 and 900 re­versible, hand-sown bags made by a Fash­ion In­sti­tute of New York friend of ours. She never makes the same purse twice and they come in var­i­ous sizes. We also have travel bags that are special or­dered which we will em­broi­der.”

The store is open 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mon­day through Wed­nes­day, 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thurs­day and Fri­day., and 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Satur­day.

thurs­day evening

The cus­tomer ap­pre­ci­a­tion evening Thurs­day will in­clude a lit­tle wine.

“We are part­ner­ing with the Eight Oaks Dis­tillery, New Tripoli, for com­pli­men­tary tast­ing of their spir­its,” Richards said.

Charles X. Blocks is lo­cated at 251 W. Broad St., Ta­maqua. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.CharlesXBlocks. com or call 570-668-1112.


Ralph Richards stands in front of his store, Charles X. Blocks, 251 W. Broad St., Ta­maqua. The old­est store in Ta­maqua, they are cel­e­brat­ing their 95th an­niver­sary.

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