MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – With Father’s Day this weekend, we gave dad a little attention in this week’s “Best of Minnesota.”
Your votes sent Natalie Nyhus to one of the oldest stores in the state — Josephson’s Clothing Store in Red Wing.
If you’re looking for the best men’s shop in Minnesota, you might as well go to the one that’s been around the longest. Josephson’s originally opened up on Jan. 26, 1878, on Main Street in Red Wing.
In 130 years, little has changed.
“This is the original tin ceiling,” said Tom Withers, the store’s owner. “The floor is 137 years old. The cabinets were delivered in approximately 1903.”
Glass doors cover the cabinets, meant to protect fine clothing from the coal dust of yesteryear.
The only thing not original is Withers, a 40-year men’s store veteran who bought Josephson’s in 1992.
His journey to owning Josephson’s began with a health scare.
“I had just had a valve replaced in my heart,” he said. “After I knew I was going to live, my wife came down and saw me, and I said, ‘Let’s write the Josphsons a letter and see if they would be interested in selling,'” he said.
Mr. Josephson played a little hard to get, but after three years of negotiations he was ready to sell.
“Tom thought it would be a good fit,” Withers said. “Mainly because his name was Tom and my name is Tom, so people could come in and say, ‘Is Tom here?’ and we would say, ‘Okay, which one.'”
Perhaps it was the shared name, or maybe the physical resemblance, but Tom Josephson trusted Tom Withers, and handed over his business.
Withers keeps a lot of photos of Josephson around the store.
“Yep, he watches me everywhere I am,” Withers said. “He keeps me honest. He was a great guy.”
Withers can outfit any man head to toe, doing all the tailoring himself.
“When people leave here I want them to say, ‘Tom sold me this outfit,'” Withers said. “I want it to fit correctly, and I want to take as much time as I have to.”
Even though Withers is in the business of making guys look good, he doesn’t think it’s the clothes that make the man.
“I think he makes the clothes,” Withers said. “I don’t think it’s the clothes make the man. I think it’s the other way around. I really do.”
But he does admit that some men need all the help they can get.
“We have quality merchandise,” he said. “We price it right the first time, and they are going to get waited on to the best of our ability.”
Withers says he has just one rule for dressing guys: the belt and shoes have to be the same color. The rest is fair game.
A couple of your other favorites were Bill’s Toggery in Shakopee and St. Clair’s for Men in Owatonna.