If you lived in Morris, Illinois anytime during the last 90 years, you’ve heard of Sklut’s. Chances are it was the only place you went to buy a suit or clothing for a special occasion. Last year, Sklut's ended its nearly 90 year run and closed its doors for the final time. Patrons of the store flocked to its final sale at 307 Liberty Street last November to get one last glimpse of the iconic locale.
Sklut's was founded by Abe Sklut, a Russian immigrant who came to the U.S. in the early 1900’s. His father, Albert, came to Morris first and went into the junk dealer business with his brother-in-law. A few years later, Albert’s wife Freida, Abe and the rest of the family joined him. The Sklut family first appears in the 1910 Census living with Anna’s sister and her family, the Menchers.
Abe was interested in the retail clothing business from the very beginning. His first job was at Goldstein’s shoe store located at 216 Liberty Street. Later he went on to work for Gold’s, a clothing store also in town. Abe opened Sklut's after graduating high school at 414 Liberty Street. On September 8th, 1928 he officially opened its doors. An ad in the newspaper called Sklut's “A new store for women and boys’ clothing in the community of opportunity!”. They advertised high quality Oxfords for $3.95 and men’s dress shirt for $1.95 and $1.65. In 1944 Abe moved the store to its more well known location. He sold the business to his brother Harry in 1966.
While Abe died in 1970, Harry and his nephew Ben continued to run the store after his death. It’s last owner Jim Riebe, purchased it in 1985 and officially closed its door in Noveber of 2016.
Sometime this August, 307 Liberty Street won’t be vacant anymore. Montage Wine Bar and Spirits currently at 304 Liberty Street across the street has purchased the store and is currently renovating it to make way for a new and improved location that offers wine, craft cocktails, live music and more room for events.
I had the chance to sit down with the owner, Michelle Xydakis, to get the latest on the new space. Michelle began working at Montage in 2009 on a part time basis. In 2013, her boss Ginger Hollenbock offered her a partnership in the business and she accepted. By 2015, Michelle bought Ginger out and has been the sole owner ever since. Montage’s current location has a great vibe that Michelle hopes to continue across the street.
When Sklut’s had their “Quitting Sale” in 2016, she was contacted by Pam Sklut Keller and asked if she’d be interested in purchasing the space. Michelle was estatic to accept this great opportunity to expand Montage to a bigger space that offers more to its customers and the Morris community. She is dedicated to preserving the history and some of the original features in the Sklut’s space, while updating its interior to reflect the vibe she’s looking for. She’s been continually impressed by the condition of the building through the renovation process and quality of the materials used so long ago.
I had the chance to take a peak inside and get a glimpse of some of the remnants from the Sklut store in years past.
Check out the Montage facebook page for updates on when the new location will be open. Montage is celebrating its final night on Wednesday July 26th before they take some time off to transition to the new space.
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