The tuxedos at the Tux Shop, 341 Bloomfield St. in Hoboken, have seen their last waltz.
The Bayonne location of the shop will remain open. But the Hoboken store is closing after 28 years, and not because Hurricane Sandy – to the contrary, the storefront saw little damage from the super storm other than a loss of business for a week.
So why is Bob Mahnken shutting his doors after 28 years? The city’s evolution and changing of the times have all but done away with the black tie affair in the mile square.
Back in time
Mahnken’s stepfather ran a part-time tux store in Bayonne years ago, and Mahnken revamped it from the ground up. He opened his full-time Tux Shop at 719 Broadway about 38 years ago and took on partner Pete Durak.
Back then, the tux choices were simple.
“You didn’t have 50 styles back then. You had your basic black, your tail coat, your cutaway. You didn’t have to match colors exactly to somebody’s dress,” said Mahnken.
Mahnken then heard of a men’s store that had closed down in Hoboken.
“In the nineties, people had parades for their weddings.” – Bob Mahnken
Decades ago, the city saw as many black tie affairs as weddings, and the weddings themselves were bigger than today.
“In the nineties, people had parades for their weddings. They had wedding parties as big as their guest lists,” he said.
Also, more people from New York shopped in Hoboken “because New York taxed clothes and we were half the price of what you’d pay in Manhattan,” Mahnken said. “Then Hoboken became New York. It used to be a little more unique than it is now.”
Mahnken feels that the economy as well as the demographic of Hoboken contributed to the drop in business.
“People used to come [to Hoboken] for a few years, work on Wall Street, and go to black-tie affairs,” Mahnken said. “Even though people still do that, they remain in Hoboken longer now and are inclined to stay home with their kids, not go to these affairs.”
The formality of fashion has also changed.
“Dresses have stayed in line with tradition. Men will wear what they want and the women will spend $5,000 on a gown. A lot of people may opt for a suit now versus a tuxedo. Tuxedos even started looking more like suits after 2000,” Mahnken said.
Though Mahnken acknowledged that the trend for tuxedos is back on the rise, consumers are still more likely to buy from the Bayonne store.
“We have a lot of Jersey City business in Bayonne,” he said. “They won’t come to Hoboken. Sometimes people have the perception that the Hoboken store costs more, but I couldn’t justify charging more in Hoboken than [they charge] 15 minutes away. Also there is a public parking lot in Bayonne. Parking is always an issue in Hoboken.”
Mahnken also said that the customer base in other towns focuses on different events than in Hoboken, like quinceaneras (Latino sweet fifteen parties) and sweet sixteen parties.
“Jersey City also has six high schools, so May, prom season, is a very busy time,” he added.
But Mahnken is not opposed to the idea of coming back to Hoboken in the future.
“If the trends come back, hopefully we’ll be back,” said Mahnken.
Amanda Palasciano may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.