Co­hen’s Cloth­iers to close for good

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Kevin Rec­tor

After 115 years in the re­tail busi­ness in Bal­ti­more and Cock­eysville, the fam­ily-run Co­hen’s Cloth­iers — which spe­cial­izes in the preppy at­tire pop­u­lar across this prep­school-rich re­gion — is clos­ing its doors for good.

Gil­bert Co­hen, the 81-year-old owner whose grand­fa­ther Max first opened the store on South Broad­way in Fells Point in 1904, said he will be­gin a liq­ui­da­tion sale on Wed­nes­day.

“‘Bit­ter­sweet’ is ob­vi­ously a good word here,” he said.

The 10,000-square-foot store, which has been at 64 Cran­brook Road in Cock­eysville since 1969, has 28 em­ploy­ees, many of whomhave been there for a long time. Some will re­tire, but oth­ers will have to find new jobs, Co­hen said — and he said he’s go­ing to do his best to help them land on their feet.

“I feel bad about the fact that some of these peo­ple who have been here a long time are now un­em­ployed, or are fac­ing un­em­ploy­ment, but there’s noth­ing I could do about it,” he said.

The store just has too many fac­tors go­ing against it, he said: He’s get­ting old. On­line sales have cut into re­tail sales in re­cent years. His lease is up in April, and the owner of the shop­ping cen­ter has plans to re­de­velop but few de­tails about when and in what way.

Co­hen said he can’t sign a new lease “with­out re­ally know­ing what this cen­ter is go­ing to be.” Maybe he could if he was 25 again. But now not.

Still, call­ing it quits is tough.

Co­hen’s grand­fa­ther em­i­grated from to­day’s Ukraine around 1888, re­named him­self Max Co­hen — a good Jew­ish name, he felt — and worked as a push­cart ped­dler in West Vir­ginia and Bal­ti­more be­fore open­ing his first store in Fells Point, Co­hen said.

Co­hen’s fa­ther, Aaron M. Co­hen, even­tu­ally took over the busi­ness, and the fam­ily lived above the store when Gil­bert Co­hen was a kid.

When the fam­ily moved the store in 1969, Cock­eysville was “pretty ru­ral and pretty rus­tic,” but they slowly built up a loyal clien­tele, he said.

For decades they fo­cused on menswear, but in more re­cent years ex­panded into at­tire for women and boys and girls. Co­hen said he’s be­come close friends with cus­tomers. He met Pat, his cur­rent wife and an em­ployee, at the store. He lives just six min­utes away. And he works seven days a week, ex­cept for when he’s on va­ca­tion and go­ing to trade shows.

Co­hen said he has al­ways loved the “sat­is­fac­tion in the ex­change of some­thing [cus­tomers] val­ued, which was their money, for some­thing we val­ued, which was our mer­chan­dise,” and will miss that.

Clos­ing will be “a tran­si­tion for me that I am go­ing to have to con­front,” he said. “I’m pretty con­vinced it’s the right de­ci­sion.”

CO­HEN'S CLOTH­IERS

Gil­bert Co­hen’s grand­fa­ther Max first opened a store in Fells Point in 1904.

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