McCall’s Men’s Wear, downtown Edmond’s oldest retailer, is closing.
When one thinks of McCall’s the names of Morris “Hoot” Gibson, the founder, and his son, Steve Gibson come to mind.
“Obviously, Edmond has been a tremendous atmosphere to work in,” owner Steve Gibson said. “It is a wonderful town to live and thrive in. The citizens of Edmond are wonderful.”
Looking back, Steve had a lot to say about downtown Edmond and when McCall’s first opened in March 1953.
In 1953 the town’s population of a little more than 6,000 was much smaller than the city’s 2018 Edmond Economic Development Authority-projection of 94,518 and growing. In spite of its urban sprawl, downtown Edmond has remained the heart of the city.
Prices were much lower back then.
“White shirts cost $2.89, socks were 35 cents and pure silk ties were $2.50,” Steve said. “Gas was around 25 cents a gallon and a loaf of bread was 15 cents.”
Some of the original stores in downtown Edmond were Lucky’s Grill, Gambles, Oklahoma Tire Supply, the Dixie Store, Browne’s Western Auto, IRWIN Motor company, Vann’s Bakery, Snyder Hardware, Anthony’s, three barber shops, Kirkland and Rexall drugstores, Fred’s and Brown’s snooker halls, G & W Grocery Store, and Conoco.
RENOVATED POOL HALL
Right after World War II, Morris “Hoot” Gibson graduated with a master’s degree in retail from New York University. He came back to Oklahoma, and went to work for S.K. McCall & Company in Norman.
“My dad had worked in New York for a while, and when he came back to Oklahoma, that’s when he began the partnership with Louis McCall,” said Gibson’s son, Steve. “Dad thought Edmond was an up-and-coming location, but the only space he could find in the downtown sector was an old pool hall. He renovated that, and today we are still in the same location.”
The clothing store was once one of two pool halls in town and the actor James Garner helped the elder Gibson renovate it in 1953 for $1 an hour before striking out to California to become a model, then actor.
McCall’s was known for hiring young men in college to work the floor. There were 300 to 400 over the years, helping out in the store, Steve said.
Although Steve was born in June 1953 on the second-floor of the hospital at the north end of the block, above what was the Broncho Theater and is now Othello’s Italian Restaurant, he called McCall’s his second home from the time he was 14 years old — working during the summer and vacations.
“I’ve been on this block basically all my life,” Gibson said.
“McCall’s has been in this spot all my life,” Steve said, “I was born here and I grew up here.”
Although his dad has a Master’s degree in retailing,Gibson said, “He told me I can learn more about business by doing it than studying it.” The purpose of the degree, Gibson explained, was to keep his options open. “Business is a gamble, every day,” he said.
It wasn’t until Steve was a sophomore in college that he developed an interest in the family business.
“I thought if I don’t go into this business it would be gone,” Steve said.
A math major who loves music, Steve has been in the family business for 52 years and has played in a band for 54 years.
“I played in my first band when I was 12,” Steve said. The band, Souled Out, has been together for 30 years.
“We have three left of the original band and we just had a concert dedicated to being together for 30 years at the Jazz Lab,” Steve added.
He said McCall’s has been somewhat of an anchor for the downtown and has given stability, as well as integrity and longevity, while supporting Edmond and its citizens.
“As far as during our lifetime, Edmond has never known a boarded up building,” Steve said.
ELDER GIBSON TOWN LEADER
It was the elder Gibson who had faith that Edmond would one day be a thriving economic force and throughout the years he has been proven right.
Steve’s father played a major role in founding the Downtown Edmond Business Association in1962.
He and a few other business owners felt there was a need for an organized group to ensure the downtown was preserved and would continue to prosper.
Today, DEBA helps to sponsor events that bring in thousands of visitors and shoppers.
Steve’s father was like many of his generation who served during W.W.II and came home to make a better life for his family and community. Not many people have outworked Gibson, who still went to the store several times a week at age 90. In the early years, a 12-hour day wasn't uncommon. He worked hard forging a better life for his family and community.
Twenty years after opening the Edmond McCall’s menswear store in March 1953, Hoot became the sole owner.
Hoot started the highly successful summer “Krazy Daze” sales promotion in Edmond. Merchants would dress up, often in zany costumes and offer discounts over one weekend. Hoot also had been a driving force in the promotion of commerce and business in downtown Edmond.
Since his father’s retirement, Steve had been running the store with the help of Beaux McGlothlin until Beaux’s death in 2017. McGlothlin had been working at the store for 24 years.
“Since then I have been running the store myself,” Steve said.
Dressing for work in the 1950s through 1970s was more formal than it is today, Steve said.
“My dad was never battling the large chain stores,” Steve said. “His mission was always to offer top quality clothing and service.”
Although over the years the clothing options have in some ways become more casual the same quality has always been offered.
“When we first opened in 1953, men’s styles were very traditional,” he said. “Men wore suits to work, and very little casual clothing was sold. Times began changing, however, and the younger generation was wearing Bermuda shorts and knee-length socks, opting for a more ‘preppy’ look. We have always been rooted in traditional style while keeping up with the modern trends.”
Gibson said after his father purchased the entirety of the McCall’s shares and became sole proprietor, he began branching out into women’s, children’s and juniors’ clothing.
As Edmond grew and the big-box stores started coming in, Steve said he remembered seeing many of the locally owned retailers close.
“Those big stores, the internet, over-retailing and family interests have all attributed to the decline,” he said. “At some point, all we will have left are non-local businesses that send all their profits out of town (and) don’t contribute to the tax base.”
McCall’s continued to be a strictly high-quality menswear clothing store with a modern yet traditional style, Steve said.
“We are an old-style retail store that was totally rooted in customer service,” he said. “We sell quality, we assist in the client’s selections and fit their garments properly. That is important, because our clients are our friends and neighbors we see on a daily basis, and we want them to feel good in their clothes. Edmond has been a wonderful town for my dad to put down our family’s roots, and it’s been a great place for me and my sisters to grow up.”
Currently McCall’s remaining stock of clothing is 50% off and Gibson still has about 50 sport coats and 40 suits. Steve said the store will remain open until the stock is gone or the building is rented.