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BARGAINS / GERI COOK

Suitable Hours : Open only three days a week, a no-frills men's clothing store keeps its overhead--and prices--low.

August 07, 1992|GERI COOK

There's 4-Day Tire, 3-Day Blinds, and now, 3-Day Suit Brokers, a men's clothing store whose time may have come. These stores have discovered that by limiting the days of operation they can cut their overhead tremendously and afford to offer low prices on their products.

3-Day Suit Brokers, open just a few weeks, is one of the first retail apparel operations in the Los Angeles area to adopt this concept, and it is open only Friday through Sunday.

This formula could set a trend for other retailers who know that the only way to attract the money-conscious shopper is to get prices down as low as possible while maintaining good quality. In Orange County, 3-Day Suit Brokers has been open for six months.

Because of the limited hours, personnel are paid by the hour, not on commission. This is a positive for the shopper since it usually translates to a softer sell. The day I visited, there were plenty of energetic sales clerks attired in red sweat shirts instead of the traditional three-piece suits; they were there but didn't hover.

3-Day Suit Brokers is not a full-on men's apparel store. No pajamas, underwear or socks. It's mainly suits, sport coats and slacks. I asked about raincoats, and manager Leo Shahinian replied, "Not yet, but we'll be expanding our inventory as we go."

There were a couple of racks of casual shirts with some great prints, long-sleeved sand-washed silk shirts that usually sell for around $50 were $24.90. One wall had a select inventory of silk ties for $14.90 instead of the regular $30-$40. Good quality dress shirts start at $9.90 and top out at $24.90.

The main room (about 12,000 square feet) is beautifully organized with wide aisles. There is an industrial atmosphere at 3-Day Suit Brokers, but seasoned shoppers are used to that. But there are private dressing rooms.

Prices for suits fall into several categories: $89, $119, $149, $169, $189 and $219, most reflecting a markup of 30% or a 40% to 50% discount from the average retail price. Pure silk sport coats that usually retail for around $140 were $59. This is not close-out inventory. The styles are current and should appeal to businessmen in all economic groups.

Three styles of 100% wool tuxedos--single- or double-breasted styles or shawl collars--are an amazing $149, which prompts one to ask whether it makes buying a tuxedo more sensible than renting one.

Suit sizes range from 36 to 50 in short, regular, long and extra long.

To the right of the store entrance is the V.I.P section, where the Italian Designers' Collection is on the racks. A Paolo Gucci suit that sells for $1,200 at one San Fernando Valley specialty store was $369. Those who are hooked on the Giorgio Armani or Hugo Boss look will find styles to their liking for around $550, a healthy savings from the going rates of about $900 to $1,200.

As a convenience to customers, 3-Day offers a small shoe section where some fairly good brands such as Nunn-Bush and Bostonian are discounted about 30%.

This is strictly a no-frills operation. No alterations on the premises (but there is a tailor next door), industrial carpeting and a warehouse atmosphere. But the main reason you'll find quality at these prices is that you cannot shop here Monday through Thursday.

If this latest tactic for outwitting the recession flies, we'll probably be seeing more retailers jumping on the three-day bandwagon.

Where to SHOP

Location: 3-Day Suit Broker, 1222 E. Colorado Blvd., Glendale; 17835 Newhope St., Fountain Valley.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, till 7 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.

Cards: All major.

Call: Glendale, (818) 502-1060, or (800) 540-SUIT; Fountain Valley, (714) 556-7848, or (800) 559-SUIT.

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