STORE NEWS: Dave's in the Garment District
When people hear of the Garment District today, they think of the fashion designers, fabric stores, and showrooms from some of the most popular brands. They may also think of F.I.T. and young designers getting their start, or even the Fashion Walk of Fame. But it was very different when Dave’s was first opened.
In 1963 when we first opened our doors on 6th Avenue between 26th and 27th Streets, we were nestled in the southeast corner of the Garment District, between a few plant shops overlapping with the Flower District. We sold vintage military goods and surplus clothes and equipment, but all around us were factories making clothing for the entire country.
At the time, almost two-thirds of women’s clothing and almost half of men’s clothing were produced in New York City. It’s crazy to think that so much of the city was so industrial only 50 years ago.
Dave's served a lot of the factory workers who were looking for inexpensive clothes that could withstand long, tough work days. The durable twills and canvas that were used at the time to make duffle bags were made into durable shirts and pants.
Dave recognized that the locals factory workers were his most loyal customers. He made sure that the shelves were stocked with work clothes that cost as little as $2 per piece. We tailored our schedule to the hours of the factories. We started to carry a regular inventory of work clothes instead of just military surplus. Dave himself even learned a bit of Spanish so that he could communicate with more of his customers. He truly understood that you have to fill the needs of the customer.
Eventually manufacturing in Garment District began to wind down, as the cost of doing business in NYC became too great. The factories closed and moved to other parts of the country or the world.
As times changed, so did Dave’s. The twill pants were replaced with jeans and cotton canvas in the 1970s. As buildings in the area were renovated or rebuilt, we discovered a new customer coming to Dave’s - the construction worker. The job functions may have changed, but their underlying need still remained. Quality goods made with durable materials and sold at a good price.
This is still the basis of what Dave’s is today. We are a retailer of quality goods that serve a utility and purpose. We are always seeking value in the products that we provide to our customers, and that has not changed in over 50 years. Although the Garment District is very different now, and our customer base has grown locally and globally, we still run our shop the same way that Dave himself did; with a focus on filling the needs of our customers.