Menswear store Graves Cox to close after 126 years

ctruman@herald-leader.comMay 19, 2014 

Graves Cox & Co. used to be located next to the old Woolworth store on Main Street.

HERALD-LEADER 1948 FILE PHOTO

Graves Cox & Co., a familiar name in Lexington for men's business attire since 1888, is closing.

Owner Leonard Cox said he would close the shop, at 325 West Main Street, because he planned to retire and "enjoy time with my wife and see my children."

Cox's grandfather co-founded the business in 1888. Cox said two Georgia investors would open a men's clothing store at the same location in August, but he wasn't certain whether the Graves Cox name would continue.

The store will have an inventory sale beginning Thursday and will be open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday during the sale.

The company said in a news release that Cox joined the business in 1965 and worked with his father and Joe Graves, grandson of the other co-founder. The company was acquired in 1969 by Genesco, a Nashville retailer, that later sold the company to employees. Cox bought the company in 1999 and reopened the business in 2004 on Main Street.

Cox said the men's clothing industry had changed, with a greater emphasis on casual wear in the workplace. Chain and online retailers also have pressured independent clothing stores, he said in a statement.

"People don't wear suits every day," Cox said. "Independent stores have got to change with the times."

Cox compared himself to a clothing doctor who told customers not necessarily what they wanted to hear. "I'm going to tell you what you need to hear," he said of his sales pitch.

"It's time to graciously bow out and let younger people learn and reinvigorate the retail industry — an industry that needs new blood," he said.

Cheryl Truman: (859) 231-3202. Twitter: @CherylTruman.

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