Thomson’s hits landmark in style
Business and service as usual for 60th anniversary
By Patrick O’Sullivan
ANGUS THOMSON’S grandfather Mick started Thomson’s Suits 60 years ago this month after he was passed over for the role of manager at Blackmore’s menswear.
He contacted suppliers and started his own Hastings menswear shop.
He brought with him a loyal following, including farmer David Hildreth, who still shops at the Heretaunga St West shop today.
“I liked their way of doing business,” he said.
“I liked Mick Thomson’s style better – he seemed to have a better understanding of what you needed.
“His was one of few shops – in New Zealand probably – that catered to what farmers needed. I enjoy doing business with people that understand our needs.
“This would be the most user-friendly shop you could ever enter, mainly because they know who you are, which makes all the difference. Long will they remain in business.”
Angus Thomson sees no reason why the business will not make it to 100 years, possibly still in family reins should his 6-year-old son choose to take them up.
The client base is also intergenerational but the business has not rested on its laurels. The shop has steadily widened its Heretaunga St West footprint and, thanks to $1 million of stock – including the country’s biggest range of Aertex shirts, a Hawke’s Bay’s favourite – it is a destination store.
While business is good, people today dress up less often.
“Everyone used to dress up for the A&P Show and when they came into town they also dressed up, whether it was a jacket and tie or just a jacket.
Coming into town was a big thing then, as was Friday night shopping.
“Nowadays people will go anywhere in a T-shirt and shorts – it is a lot more casual – but we are seeing a swing towards getting dressed up, especially for weddings and funerals.
“They know who you are, which makes all the difference.”
Loyal customer David Hildreth
“I think people have been casual enough and want an excuse to get dressed up. It also makes them feel good when they look good.”
Thomson’s mainstay is the business and rural communities, followed by weddings, but the business community was becoming increasingly casual, aided by the practice of casual Fridays.
“People aren’t wearing ties any more and fewer are wearing suits, but they still want to look good.”
Clothes off the rack fit better than the past, especially the 1980s, Thomson said.
“I can remember when there was pretty much one fit – big and baggy. Now it has come back to slim fittings and we have four to five different fits of shirt.”
His father, Mick, said the secret to success was good value and good service.
“The old man always said, you can’t compete with the cheap stuff. You’ve got to have the quality – the best you can get at a price people can afford.”
Photo caption – TIMELESS: David Hildreth (left) has been shopping at Thomson’s Suits since it was founded by Angus Thomson’s (right) grandfather Mick 60 years ago this month.