Stanley Schwartz oral history interview, 1980 March 01. OH-01653. [Audio recording]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada. http://n2t.net/ark:/62930/d1hd7rj4h
Standardized Rights Statement
So what brought you to Las Vegas? My mother and her at that time husband moved to Las Vegas and about a year later my brother and I came to Las Vegas to visit her. We thought we liked the area, spent a few days here, and found a business location and went into business. Where was the business location? We found a store, which was on Main Street and is now across from the Union Plaza, halfway, in the middle of the block, and we subleased from an air conditioning company. You subleased that building. We subleased about six hundred square feet and paid a hundred dollars a month rent in this little store. Do you recall the dates when you first moved to Las Vegas? Not really, but it was sometime in 1951. When you came here that was your goal, then, to establish that business? Or you came here on vacation, but... Well, my goal was to reestablish myself. I was a very young man. I was twenty one when I went into business in Los Angeles and I was more or less inexperienced and I didn't have the ability to sustain the business in Los Angeles, but I learned from my experience. Was there a demand for clothing stores compared to today when you came here? Yes. I think that if you mean opportunity, I believe that there were a lot of opportunities for businesses when we came into town. Unfortunately, we came into town very under capitalized. But because the town was a growing town, because it was a dynamic town, I feel that there were real opportunities in the town at that time. Would you say there were more or less business opportunities in Las Vegas in the fifties as compared to today? Las Vegas, I think, is a great business area. In terms of a person starting out with limited capital, in the fifties you had more opportunities. First of all, it didn't require the type of capital today. There wasn't the competition of the large chains and department stores. So there were probably more opportunities in the fifties. What was the business district comprised of back in the 1950s? Well, basically the main business district comprised of an area from Third and Fremont to Fifth and Fremont. First and Second Street were mainly, as it is today, casinos although they weren't of the size and stature that they are today. Of course, as I indicated previously, our first location was on Main Street. So a customer would have to seek us out. How did you get those customers to find you? First we tried to become known by circulating around on the Strip and meeting people and advertising. We advertised in the newspapers. We ran small ads in the newspapers and we found that we could get excellent results on the radio. What were types of advertising back then? I mean what papers existed and what radio stations, do you recall? Well, there was The Sun and the Review Journal, as there is today. There were...I don't recall the number of radio stations, but I do recall that we used KRAM. And it might be of interest that when we ran our ads, the salesman would approach us and ask us if we would like to run a dollar a holler, which means a dollar for thirty seconds, or he had seven for elevens; that was seven spots for eleven dollars. Was that reasonable back then, do you feel? I mean it sounds reasonable to me, but compared to the dollar back then. Yes, I feel it was very reasonable and very effective. As a matter of fact, when we ran our first ad on the radio, I think within twenty minutes a customer drove up in front of our store and came in and said he had just heard our radio ad and was interested in the suit that we were advertising. Now, you're a specialty business. I know you're Big and Tall now. Were you Big and Tall back then? No. When we first went into business in Las Vegas, we tried to explore a reason for us to exist, a reason for us to be successful. We discovered that the young men's market; that is, I would say the market from eighteen to thirty was not being exploited. We had had experience in Los Angeles in what is known as the one button roll model. That is a model?and if you're confused about it, you ask me. But that is a suit model where the coat had one button and the back of the coat had no seam. It was one piece, so it was called a one piece back. In those days that was a popular model among a small percentage of the population. It was a very ethnic model. It was the type of clothing that I understood and it was not being sold or promoted in Las Vegas. So we expressed the fact that we had this particular type of clothing and we attracted actually a very small percentage of the population but enough to sustain our little business.