'New' Eddie Jacobs to return to basics

August 11, 1992|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,Staff Writer

Eddie Jacobs Ltd., the men's clothing store that served downtown Baltimore's business elite for 53 years before closing in February, expects to reopen Saturday in a new location.

The store's familiar symbol, a brass plaque with crossed tennis rackets, has been brought out of storage, polished and mounted on the Maryland National Bank building at Light and Redwood streets, half a block from the old store at 22 Light St.

Eddie Jacobs Jr., a partner in the store and son of the founder, said the store's new home will cost less than its old one. The high rent at the old location was one of the main reasons the store filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November, he said.

"It ate us out of lunch and home," he said. "It was killing us."

Mr. Jacobs said last year that he had tried to renegotiate the terms of the lease with his landlord, United Way of Central Maryland, but was unable to strike a deal.

The Baltimore Business Journal reported that Eddie Jacobs will pay $2,275 a month at its new location vs. the $4,975 it paid for a larger space at its previous home. Mr. Jacobs would not discuss his lease terms but said his payments at 22 Light St. were higher than $4,975.

The new location has 1,300 square feet, compared with 2,300 square feet of selling space at the previous location. The store will occupy part of the space formerly used by G. Briggs, a menswear chain that closed its downtown location.

Mr. Jacobs said a plan of reorganization was filed with the court June 6 and that the company expects to emerge from bankruptcy soon. None of the creditors objected to the new lease, he said, and "a lot of them are giving us credit."

Mr. Jacobs said the new store will carry less sportswear than the old store and will focus instead on the conservative business attire that has been its bread and butter for decades.

The original store, at 5 E. Redwood St., was founded in 1939 by Eddie Jacobs Sr., a national tennis champion during the 1920s and a member of the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame. Over the years, it has occupied various downtown sites, catering to the bankers, lawyers and businessmen in Baltimore's financial district.

The elder Mr. Jacobs died in 1982.

The store's reopening is a vindication for the younger Mr. Jacobs and his partner, Frank Motta.

Late last year, when the store was preparing to close, Mr. Jacobs vowed that the reorganization would be "short and furious, and we'll be back."

As a signal of his determination to reopen, the store kept its phone line going even while the store was closed.

When Eddie Jacobs reopens, it will find itself at the heart of a changed downtown menswear market. One of its largest competitors, Hamburgers, is in the final weeks of a going-out-of-business sale.

Mr. Jacobs said he was taking a second plunge into the downtown menswear business because "it's a part of my life."

"My father wanted me to be a doctor," he said, "but I was stupid enough not to listen to him."

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