EXPIRED: 11/17/09 – Sy Syms, 83, was a pioneer in the apparel retailing industry and founder and chairman of the discount clothing store SYMS.
Sy was often seen in TV commercials in the 70’s and 80’s with his daughter Marcie at his side stating that SYMS was a store “where an educated consumer is our best customer.”
Syms was born Seymour Merinsky in Brooklyn on May 12, 1926. His older brother and father opened a store on Vesey Street called Merns, a name the family would also take as its own. He then served in the Army, attended New York University and worked as a sportscaster in Maryland and West Virginia, eventually joining the family’s retail business in 1950.
In 1959 he opened his own rival store on Cortland Street and named it for himself, Sy Merns. His strategy – which still stands to this day – was to buy name-brand and designer merchandise below wholesale and sell it for far less than the regular price. It became known as SYMS after Sy was legally forced to change the store name because of a family dispute. He also legally changed his name to Syms.
SYMS went public in 1983 and is now selling discount clothes in 30 stores in 13 states. This year the company bought Filene’s Basement, bringing the total for the two brands to 52 stores.