When was the last time you entered a Wilson’s? For me, it’s been a while. But the
trip that’s forever etched in my memory goes all the way back to junior high.
My sister had just scored a cool Michael Jackson Thriller-style red
windbreaker. Not wanting to be outdone, I commenced to scour the shopping mall for my own status jacket.
Eventually I settled on a black suede bomber from Wilson’s that had a lil’ feminine flourish: a
tiny puff at each shoulder (the closest approximation of a Juliet sleeve that
can be done in buckskin, mind you). All that remained was begging poor mom to shell
for the modest pricetag, which she happily did. "You’ll have this coat for a long
while," is what she said, the foolish thing.
Of course, subsequent visits to the store, years and years later, proved
disappointing. But rather than trash this local "heritage" retailer (the Strib
sez it’s been around since 1899), I’ll merely point out that it failed to
fulfill our expectations for such businesses. Consider the example of, say, Duluth
Pack, another centenarian company (sine 1882) that, rather than get greedy and
try to mass-market its products, concentrated on steadily crafting their
simple, quality line of luggage, sacks, and bags–all of which are united by a
singular rough-hewn aesthetic. Meanwhile, Wilson’s
knocked off every which department-store trend in leather coats and
accessories. Plus, I noticed they use really shitty buttons. "Disposable" is
how I later came to regard my sole Wilson’s
possession, and I don’t suppose that’s an enviable position for a leather
It’s not surprising, then, that the business is starting to
tank. Still, it’s always a shame when jobs are lost–especially Minnesota jobs!