Saskatoon menswear mainstay Elwood Flynn retiring at 91
Flynn bought out his partners and opened his eponymous store in 1956
Elwood Flynn has been an important figure in Saskatoon's retail scene for decades. His eponymous menswear store has been a fixture of high-end clothing in the city.
Now, at 91, Flynn is hanging up his hat and getting ready to retire.
Flynn got his start in menswear thanks to a summer job when he was a high school student at Nutana Collegiate.
"It was during the Second World War, and they were always looking for young men, as most of them were on the battlefield," he said. "So I did get a job at $12 a week — very low pay by today's standards. But I got a raise eventually, and one more before the summer was out, to $15. And I guess the rest is history."
Flynn said his mother's opinions on taste and style were a major influence on his decision to pursue menswear as a career.
"She used to bring in clothes from the United States for me, things that you couldn't buy in Canada, so I always had something just a little different than most of the other kids were wearing," he said. "It was just by luck. It wasn't that we were rich or anything, but my mother … wanted me to look good and take an interest in appearance, so I followed in her wishes."
Flynn opened the Elwood Flynn Ltd. at the 23rd Street E. in 1956, the same year he married his wife Joan. Together, the couple also opened a shoe store, The Town Cobbler, which would go on to have locations throughout the city.
Since those first years in business, Flynn has dressed customers through decades of shifting fashion trends.
"I've seen ties when they were two inches wide and I've seen ties five inches wide at the bottom," he said. "And that covers probably 20 years or more, that change. You have to have an open mind to change if you want to be a good menswear buyer or a fashion buyer."
Flynn already knows what he will miss most about his work.
"The people," he said. "The customers. I don't know of any other business where you make lifetime friends just through menswear."
Customers have been making it clear that they will miss him, too.
While Flynn had hoped his employees might take over the store, he acknowledged that "the way the times are, it's hard to find somebody that wants to buy a retail business," especially during the pandemic. He has been organizing his retirement sale, getting ready to outfit Saskatoon's suit-wearing crowd one last time.
"It's just about to begin, but we've been doing some pre-selling," he said. "People are breaking down the doors to get in."
With files from Saskatoon Morning