Bond Clothing Stores
|Headquarters||New York and Nationwide|
|Products||Men's apparel and accessiories|
Bond Clothing Stores, Bond Clothes, Bond Clothiers, or Bond Stores, was a men's clothing manufacturing company and retailer. The company catered to the middle-class consumer.
The company was founded in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1914, when Mortimer Slater, with Charles Bond and Lester Cohen, founded the stores as a retail outlet for their suit manufacturing company. The first store featured fifteen-dollar men's suits. As president Mr. Slater built the concern into a million-dollar corporation, increasing the number of employees from fifty to more than 4,000. At his retirement in 1924, the concern had twenty-eight stores in large cities. Bond Stores, Inc. was organized in Maryland on March 19, 1937 by the consolidation of Bond Clothing Company, a Maryland corporation, and its subsidiary, Bond Stores, Inc. The principal executive offices of the corporation were located at 261 Fifth Avenue in New York City.
During the 1930s and 1940s, it became the largest retail chain of men's clothing in the United States, best known for selling two-pant suits. In 1975, the company was sold to foreign investors, then broken up and sold in smaller groups to its management. For instance, 13 stores were operated by the Proud Wind, Inc. company.
In 1933, company president Barney S. Ruben (1885–1959) moved the manufacturing center of Bond Clothes from New Brunswick, New Jersey to Rochester, New York where he spent his youth and got his start in the clothing industry with Fashion Park Clothes. By the end of the 1930s, the manufacturer grew to employ over 2,500 people. During the 1940s the company expanded to larger manufacturing facilities on North Goodman St. In 1956, wholly owned manufacturing plants operated at New Brunswick, New York City, and Rochester. The Rochester facility was later sold to General Dynamics. The company's manufacturing facilities remained in Rochester until 1979, when the factory was finally closed.
Bond Stores operated numerous retail outlets in the United States. Principally a men's clothier, by the mid-1950s some stores also carried women's clothing, and later became known as "family apparel centers." In 1956, the chain operated nearly 100 outlets from coast to coast in principal cities, in addition to more than 50 agency stores that sold goods in smaller communities. In the late 1960s there were around 150 retail outlets. By 1982, that number had dwindled to 50. Around 1970, new management knowledgeable in fashions took over Bond Clothes, but their knowledge of the retail clothing industry did nothing to save Bond Clothes from its eventual demise.
New York City
Its New York City flagship store was at 372 Fifth Avenue at 35th Street, the former flagship of Best & Co. Known as "Bond Fifth Avenue," they began leasing the store and the adjoining 12-story office tower from Best & Co. in 1947. In 1948, Bond renovated the entire building with ultra-modern interiors under the direction of designer Morris Lapidus. Bond stayed in the building until the mid-1970s. The building has most recently been redeveloped by the Paratis Group as a commercial / residential complex known as the "372 Fifth Avenue Loft."
The company also operated a store at Times Square. That outlet opened in 1940, was dubbed "the cathedral of clothing." The store closed in 1977. Starting in 1980, the building was a dance club called Bond International Casino, notable for hosting a concert by The Clash in 1981. The building now houses a restaurant called Bond 45.
Washington, D.C., and vicinity
Bond Stores first entered the Washington, D.C., market in 1925. In Washington, D.C., the local flagship store was at 1335 F Street, NW, in the heart of the downtown shopping district. It opened in the early 1930s and closed in January 1982.
Suburban locations in Northern Virginia operated at Landmark Mall in Alexandria (opened 1966) and Seven Corners Shopping Center in Falls Church (opened October 1956, closed 1976). Outlets in suburban Maryland operated at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, Prince George's Plaza in Hyattsville (opened 1959, closed ca. 1982), and Marlow Heights Shopping Center at Marlow Heights.
Buffalo, New York
Bond Stores operated at least two locations in the Buffalo, New York area. In 1940, they took over the Givens, Inc. women's and children's apparel store at 452-54 Main Street in downtown Buffalo. A suburban location opened in 1962, at the new Boulevard Mall.
Times Square sign
Between 1948 and 1954, Bond Clothes operated a massive sign on the east side block of Broadway between 44th and 45th streets in New York's Times Square. The sign had nearly 2 miles of neon and included two 7-story-tall nude figures, a man and a woman, as bookends. Between the nude figures, there was a 27-foot-high (8.2 m) and 132-foot-wide (40 m) waterfall with 50,000 gallons of recirculated water. Beneath the waterfall was a 278-foot-long (85 m) zipper sign with scrolling messages. The Bond zipper was made up of more than 20,000 light bulbs. Above the waterfall was a digital clock with the wording "Every Day 3,490 People Buy at Bond." Some of the sign remained in place to advertise the Bond Stores location until the stores closure in 1977.
- Harvard Business School, Lehman Brothers Collection - Twentieth-Century Business Archives Bond Stores,Inc. historical collection (accessed September 16, 2008).
- "Bonds to Close F Street Store Jan. 23," by Jerry Knight, The Washington Post, December 18, 1981, p. D7.
- "Mr. Ruben Dies; Headed Bond Stores," The Washington Post, Times Herald, October 29, 1959, p. B2.
- Finding Aid to records in the Rare Books and Special Collections department, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester (accessed September 16, 2008)
- "Bond to Serve Both Men and Women," The Washington Post and Times Herald, October 3, 1956, p. 50.
- Paratis Group, 372 Fifth Avenue: SoHo in Midtown, History webpage (accessed September 16, 2008).
- New York Architecture Images- Midtown (Times Square) (accessed September 16, 2008).
- Trager, James (2004) The New York Chronology: The Ultimate Compendium of Events, People, and Anecdotes from the Dutch to the Present, HarperCollins (p. 736). ISBN 978-0-06-074062-7
- "Bond to Open Store," The Washington Post, Times Herald, April 21, 1966, p. C8.
- Area Roundup, The Washington Post, December 31, 1976, p. D7.
- "It's Fashionable For Whole Family To Shop Together," The Washington Post and Times Herald May 7, 1959, p. C22.
- Rizzo, Michael F. (2007) Nine Nine Eight: The Glory Days of Buffalo Shopping Lulu Enterprises, Inc.; Morrisville, North Carolina. ISBN 978-1-4303-1386-1.
- New York Architecture Images- Midtown (Times Square) includes postcards showing Times Square Bond Clothes sign (accessed September 16, 2008).
- Photograph of Forrester Building, 640 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, California (home of Bond Clothing Stores, Inc., ca. 1939 to 1973) (accessed September 16, 2008).