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Scott’s clothier was the height of city’s upscale style

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Phil Egan

“Get the pants on them!”

That was a lesson I learned from Maury Goldberg at Taylor’s Men’s Wear on Christina Street. I worked there for a time during my high school days.

Owners Maury Goldberg and Sid Aronovich were master salesmen. For a boy who would spend most of his life in sales, it was Salesmanship 101.

“You’ll never sell them a suit unless you get the pants on them,” Maury used to say. And you were in big trouble if you sold a suit but not a shirt and tie to go with it.

But from late 1947 through 1988, the master clothier in town was unquestionably Scott’s – the distinctive Tudor-style building on the southwest corner of Christina Street and what is now Derby Lane.

It was Russell Lane back in early 1947 when J.S Scott, his son, Bill, and William (Barney) Brady purchased the old Dougherty residence at 301 North Christina Street. They had decided to open a branch of Scott’s of London in Sarnia. Each owned a one-third share in the new Sarnia store. They knocked the old porch off of the Dougherty home, once a boarding house for railway workers, and proceeded to construct the distinctive building that still stands today, currently housing Brush Strokes, the interior design shop.

Scott’s opened in November of 1947, primarily offering suits, hats, overcoats, tuxedos and men’s furnishings. Part of the store was devoted to upscale women’s clothing. High quality woolens predominated. Conservative styles were the stores hallmark. It was back in the day when businessmen in the Chemical Valley and the city’s commercial and business heartland wore suits to work every day. Business flourished. Selling a dozen suits each week was common.

Bob Freel managed Scott’s when the store first opened. Barney Brady would drive down from London once a week to check on the store’s progress. In 1956, Barney Brady moved his family to Sarnia and Brady took over management of Scott’s, buying out his former partners to take over sole proprietorship of Scott’s.

Over time, fashions changed. U.S. President John Kennedy’s refusal to wear hats killed the hat trade in 1970. By the time Barney’s son, Jim, took over in 1978, a more profound change was slowly beginning as greater informality in the workplace gradually became more common. Jim Brady “saw the writing on the wall” and began to move Scott’s into more casual sportswear.

“It was our salvation,” Jim Brady recalls. Suit sales began to decline.

Unable to find a buyer in 1988 as the demand for upscale clothing waned, Jim closed Scott’s in 1988. He went on to teach mathematics in Petrolia for 16 years.

Gone but not forgotten, Scott’s left a legacy of high quality and customer satisfaction.


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