There are no mannequins displaying the latest fashions but rather racks of those fashions lining the walls.

The floor is crowded with more racks of sport coats, and shelves are filled with shirts, trousers and ties.

Tuxes in a variety of colors await pickup for area proms.

In the midst of it all, sitting calmly at a counter near the back of the store as he has for 40 years, is Jack Black, owner of Suit City on U.S. 127 South. While other clothing stores have come and gone, Suit City will soon celebrate half a century of serving Franklin County when you add the six years Black’s store was in Hawkeegan Park off Louisville Road.

Now 80, Black and his wife, Louise, haven’t had an extended vacation since he opened the haberdashery and she started Louise’s Flowerland. “The most we were ever able to take off was for a three-day weekend,” he said.

Black would like to find a new owner for his business, which is open six days a week, but so far he hasn’t made a real push to do that. “I offered to give it to an employee,” he said, “but the thought scared him to death, and he didn’t take it.”

Black says the key to the ongoing success of Suit City is fairly simple.

“We haven’t tried to get rich preying on people. We ask what we believe to be fair, normal and affordable prices.” And since the Blacks own the buildings, overhead is nominal.

Suit City offers creations by all of the major men’s clothiers. “We have lots of name brands — and some that aren’t!”

Business is steady, but Black says during prom month — which is going on now — it’s “crazy.” Young men come in, usually with a parent, to be fitted and schedule pickup. Most seem a bit nervous since perhaps it is their first time in a tux, perhaps even a suit.

Black measures each customer and completely outfits him, down to shoes and socks.

How he started

A former basketball coach at Frankfort High for six years, Black became a clothier quite by accident.

“I was an assistant (basketball coach) at Morehead and I was out on a recruiting trip in western Kentucky and southern Illinois. I came to a four-way stop and there was a big, white, concrete block building with a sign on it that said Davis Clothing.”

He went in and met Robert Davis, who later introduced him to suppliers in St. Louis. That was the beginning of what would become Suit City.

“When I opened, I traveled every two weeks to St. Louis and brought back clothes to sell in the store,” he said. “I did that until we were doing enough business that the salesmen started to call.”

Black says he learned the business “by the seat of my pants!”

A sign behind his desk reads: “This is no museum, this junk is for sale.”

Suit City is at 1134 U.S. 127 South. Hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and 9-2:30 on Saturday, 502-223-5549.

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