A chat with Frank Atchison is a fascinating trip down Saskatoon's haberdashery lane.
Frank is the Atch behind Atch and Company Men's Wear, a fixture in fine men's clothing in the city since the early 1970s.
'I had two jobs for many years, so getting one job was pretty easy.' - Frank Atchison
"I've been in 46 years and I'm the new kid on the block," he joked on CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.
He's right — it wouldn't take very many fine Italian silk ties stretched end-to-end to reach from his shop to Elwood Flynn for Men, a clothier with a 60-year history, and then over to Caswells, a high-end retailer that's been around for a century, according to Atchison.
But Frank Atchison is retiring and closing up shop. At 91 and with 46 years on the job, you might wonder what his secret for longevity is.
"I had two jobs for many years, so getting one job was pretty easy," he laughed.
Atchison is more than just a sharp-dressed man. He's an army veteran, and at one time worked as an engineer on the railroads propping up the retail stores.
But the clothing business is changing, Atchison said.
"Online shopping has cut into the business," and the customers in the store are changing too, he said.
"It's more self-service now. They don't demand the attention."
Always tried to change with the times
Atchison's experience in men's clothing predates his own store, to when he first went to work in retail at the tender age of 17. Back when it all began, Atchison recalls a much more formal approach for a man trying to make his mark in Saskatoon.
"We tried to outdo one another," he recalled. "A man had a spring overcoat, he had a fall overcoat, and he had a winter overcoat and a parka."
That buttoned-down style seemed to endure in Saskatoon until the 1960s arrived, along with a counter-culture movement that not only changed the political climate, but also the way young men presented themselves.
"The hippie movement had a big impact on business because that's when jeans came really strong," Atchison said. "When I was a boy going to high school, you felt sorry for the kids that had to wear jeans."
Not one to shy away from change, the Atchison family did run several jeans stores.
Now, change in the industry and time are catching up with Atchison to the point where he is ready to step down, and with no one from the family willing to takeover, Atch and Company will close up shop at the end of the summer.
Atchison will stay busy — he suggested he may do even more volunteer work.
Look for the well-dressed, distinguished-looking gentleman.