Charles X. Block of Tamaqua celebrates 90 years in business
ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS Owner Ralph Richards, left, and manager Richard Gibson, stand next to their men's casual apparel at Charles X. Block in Tamaqua. The store is celebrating its 90th anniversary.
Charles X. Block in Tamaqua is celebrating over nine decades of business in Tamaqua.
Ted Block, who operated the store since 1963, when his father, Charles X. Block, passed away, recalled a personal letter from President Harry Truman, saying, "I remember when my father sold a hat to one of Truman's secret service guards for the President." Block, who pointed out that the President's hat size was seven and one quarter, said, "President Truman stated his gratitude for the fine hat."
Block, along with Richard Gibson, who has worked at Block's for over 30 years and remains the store's manager, recalled another memory during the years. Richard remembered providing alteration work to actors of the Lakewood Park, once located in Barnesville, saying, "Believe it or not, we used to sell women's bathing suites."
Ted also mentioned a century of family traditions revolving around his family's strong involvement in the men's suit and clothing industry; pointing out both his father's and grandfather's long successes of being in the local forefront of the men's clothing industry. "In years past, there used to be five men's clothing stores in Tamaqua. Now, ours was the only one that survived," stated Block.
In July 2011, the store was purchased by Ralph and Jeanette Richards of Jim Thorpe. "We'll never get rid of what has made the store so great for nine decades," said Ralph. The Richards are making sure the formal transition of ownership remains slow, as to allow them to get to know their customers and their needs. "Even though Charles X. Block has new owners, we decided to keep the name of the store the same," stated Ralph.
Block stated, "Ralph had worked side by side with me since October 2010 before deciding to purchase the store from me two years ago."
"The store has weathered economic depression and recession," said the current owners. "Charles X. Block has weathered numerous times of economic depression and recession."
In addition to offering a wide array of apparel and services; such as men's suits, tuxedos, rentals, shoes, gifts, accessories and tailoring services, Ralph stated they are offering a number of added men's apparel items, such as additional casual sport shirts, school uniforms, hats, gifts, jewelry, dress shirts, pants, sweaters, jeans, jackets, top coats, sunglasses, outerwear and more. "Our items appeal to everyone's everyday needs," said Ralph.
"Every month, we have specials on Facebook and via email," added Ralph. 'We communicate with over 1,000 people this way."
The store is also drop off location for dry cleaning, as well as offers clothing alterations, bridal wear restoration, personalized vinyl banners, shoe resoling and more.
Both Ralph and Ted mentioned that they have continued to offer the many traditions involved with tuxedo rentals, such as providing "swatches", or pieces of fabric, for customers to browse before selecting from their large selection of custom ordered American made suits ranging in all sizes. "Most of the items are still here," said Ralph. "We enhanced items that Ted and Charles have always had."
"Anything bought here is altered for free," said Rich. "We do more tailoring here in the past year more than ever." "We boutique orders exclusively for person that comes in," said Ralph. "Turn around is usually less than a week."
"We have widened the selection to include some updated men's ideas," said Ralph. "We are always thought of as a tuxedo and suit place. Rather, think of us as a gift idea place."
Jeanette noted that all the women who entered the store brought up the lack of women's attire or accessories. Adding a little twist to traditional inventory, Jeanette had included brand name women's clothing accessories to the store's inventory; such as fashion jewelry, one of a kind fashion handbags, custom made head and hairbands, scarfs and more. "You don't have to travel far to find an affordable gift. We have something for everyone," added Jeanette.
Charles X. Block, 251 W. Broad St., also remains longtime member of the Tamaqua Chamber of Commerce.
The Richards also pointed out the store's continued commitment to the community, pointing out the store's availability of providing fundraising opportunities for nonprofit organizations.
The store's hours are Monday to Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. They can also be reached at (570) 668-1112 or via Facebook.
"Charles X. Block was built on over 90 years of caring and we don't plan on changing that," said Ralph. "We'll continue to be a community minded business, with the idea of understanding the great benefits of shopping local."