EDWARDSVILLE — A men's clothing store is closing after nine decades of business in the metro-east.
Imber's Men's Wear will close this month, ending 90 years of operation in the metro-east and 80 years on Edwardsville's Main Street.
Hyman Imber opened the first Imber's shop in Belleville more than 90 years ago. His sons, Norman and Louis Imber, helped open a number of other stores; at one time Imber's had eight men's clothing shops in the area, according to current owner Alan Legow, Hyman's grandson.
It was his family's legacy: Alan's father, Jerry Legow, married Ida Imber and likewise helped run the stores. Alan Legow has been in the family business for 35 years himself.
"It's my whole history," Legow said. "It's given us a nice living. We've met many nice people; the majority of people who come in here are not just customers, but friends."
Among those long-time customers is Ben Dickmann, former police chief and now city administrator. For 40 years, Dickmann has bought his suits from Imber's, and recalls a time when shopping and clothing habits were different.
"There was no such thing as casual Friday," Dickmann said. "People dressed much more formally, and my mother would say, more presentably -- even when they took a train ride or airplane flight... That dynamic has changed."
Now with "business casual" more prevalent than a suit and tie, the suits and sport coats aren't in as high a demand, Dickmann said.
"I'm not saying it's a bad thing, it's just a change in our times," he said.
Dickmann also remembers Jerry Legow, who always narrated the Edwardsville Halloween Parade on Main Street.
"Jerry had a very welcome presence in the community, everywhere he went," Dickmann said. "He's quite a man."
But times changed, clothing changed and the way people shopped changed.
"When we got started, there was no such thing as malls," Legow said. "Like a lot of stores, we sold everything for men, from suits to socks... That never really changed."
But as department stores and malls took over, one by one the Main Street stores closed. The original Belleville shop closed in 1990 after 74 years, and the Collinsville location closed in 1995.
The Edwardsville shop was the last survivor.
"It's the economics of it," Legow said. "It makes more sense for me."
Legow has another business: C.L. Clothiers, a custom-clothing trade where he visits customers in their homes or offices and tailors clothing for them. It has taken more of his time, and it doesn't accommodate being "landlocked" to a brick-and-mortar shop well.
So Imber's will close at last, with a going-out-of-business sale kicking off this week.
"It's hard for me to accept that this store that's had such a long presence on Main Street will close next month," Dickmann said. "I can't remember a time without Imber's on Main Street; they've been there longer than I've been alive... It's just sad. But life is dynamic, things change."
Legow said it was a difficult decision.
"We're losing not just customers, but friends."
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at email@example.com or 239-2501.