‘Retiring on our own terms’

FOR a number of men across Traralgon, Russell Davidson has been there for every major milestone.

From their first formal, their senior debutante ball to their wedding- Russell has been by their side, dressing them for every occasion.

It’s a relationship not many retailers have with their customers, but as Russell puts it, it’s what has kept his family’s business, Les Davidson Menswear, going for the past 62 years.

The Davidsons’ story is a rare one in current times – a family business growing from a small storefront to a successful retail store.

However, the Davidsons’ store will soon be empty, but not for the reasons one may think.

Instead of a lack of business, it’s the appeal of retirement and the beckoning of what awaits – life on the water, cooking classes and Saturday sleep ins.

“We’re retiring on our terms,” Russell said.

“I’ve got a boat and it’s time to see if it floats.”

Les Davidsons Menswear began in 1955 in a small shopfront operated by Russell’s father, Les.

Now a beloved family business, Russell said it wasn’t love at first sight.

“After day one dad was like ‘I can’t make a go of this’ and tried to hand the keys back,” he said.

But Les stuck at it, focusing on quality, tailored goods and establishing rapport with his customers.

The dedication paid off, and to this day is what the business is known for.

Now a one-stop shop for men, the business sells everything from tailored suits to casual t-shirts, underwear and shoes.

“Men don’t want to be wandering around a mall, they want to be in and out in 30 minutes,” Russell said.

“Here they can walk in and get everything they need.”

Barbara Gapper has been shopping at the store for “many, many years”.

She told The Express the personalised service was what kept her coming back.

“We have shopped there for debs, weddings and special occasions, each time receiving the best and friendliness of services for whatever our needs,” Ms Gapper said.

“You’d go in, pick out a suit then spend 30 minutes just having a chat like old friends. They’re just really lovely people.”

Ms Gapper wished the couple well in their retirement and thanked them for their “many years of excellent customer service”.

Russell and Chris said they would miss their loyal customers acquired over the years but looked forward to what laid ahead.