RED WING, Min. (FOX 9) - When Tom and Denise Withers bought Josephson’s Clothing in Red Wing in 1992, the owners told him them they could do whatever he wanted.
"If we wanted to change the name, go right ahead," Tom told FOX 9. "And I looked at Denise and she looked at me and we said if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!"
Josephson’s opened in Red Wing in 1878. It’s current location is actually the store’s third, but it’s remained in that same spot since 1901, or 121 years.
"And this building is going to last another 121 years, I know that," Tom said. "I mean the floors in here are 2 by 14s, 12 inches apart. You could drive a truck in here and it’s not going to move it."
It was the third generation, Tom and Marilyn Josephson, who sold it to the Withers. But now, with some health issues and a desire to spend time with his wife and his grandchildren, Tom has sold Josephson’s again.
And this time, the name will change.
"He will call it Heimie’s Haberdashery Red Wing," said Withers, explaining how he sold it to the owner of Heimie’s in downtown St. Paul.
It is mixed feelings that the Josephson’s name will cease to exist after 143 years in Red Wing, but that Heimie’s plans to keep the store much the same, with modest renovations.
"I’m very happy," Withers said. "I had a lot of people that were looking at the space."
But most weren’t interested in keeping the store, and Tom believes Red Wing needs it to remain.
Along with places like the St. James Hotel, Hamisch Bakery and the Uff Da Cafe, Josephson’s has been a destination. Withers estimates that 60% of his customers come from out of town, drawn by the quality and customer service.
Another draw is simply the store itself. Walking in feels like entering a living time capsule, with so many of the vintage racks and fixtures still in use.
Tom admits is a tough time for him to make this transition, but one he looks forward to.
He’s worked a lot of evenings and weekends, missed a lot of his two boys events when they were growing up. He doesn’t want to do that again.
"And now I’ve got three grandchildren, and I don’t want to miss them growing up," he said. "I love my wife dearly, we’ll be married 45 years in two weeks, and I want to spend some time with her, too."
Thursday, May 26, will be customer appreciation day. But it’s likely the customers will spend that day appreciating Tom for all he’s done.
The store’s final day will come May 31. It will reopen in the fall under the new name.