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Retailer Spotlight: Mr. B Clothing

Successful people often have common personality traits and habits. Certainly hard work and determination is part of the mix, but for those that are successful and content, there’s something more. You’ll find that for these people, there’s a passion for the work they do, a dedication to stay the course, and a willingness to listen to the ideas of others. All these traits (and more) are found in Owner of Mr. B Clothing, Tim Sitzmann.

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Mr. B Clothing in Clive, IA has been serving customers in the Des Moines area for nearly 40 years. What started as a pseudo-discount store, evolved into a mainline service store, and now today is considered the preeminent men’s luxury retailer in the area. Tim Sitzmann began his career as a road salesman, and came to Mr. B in 1993. Taking up the baton of ownership, Tim has been the one in charge for the last 15 years. During Tim’s time at Mr. B, he’s definitely seen a shift in the business. He’s noticed that the lower end purchases often happen online, whereas their retail environment is higher end. “We were sort of forced to be a high-end retailer because of our emphasis on service. Service is actually the first thing we sell, and clothing is a by-product of that service,” Tim shared. “Long ago we moved from price to service as our emphasis, and it’s served us well.”

A service-driven organization has to function differently than a business just focused on moving product. There must be a passion for what you’re doing that pushes you to seek something more than just a sale. And that’s what sets Mr. B apart from many in the retail business. Tim’s passion for the business and the industry in general sets the tone for his team, and it’s clear that he’s a thoughtful leader focused on more than just the bottom line. “As a team, we talk about our core values all the time. Are we willing to be in the service industry, and do we understand what that really means? It means doing what it takes and putting our customers first, making sure they understand and know that you care about them,” Tim said.

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There are 28 people that work for Tim, and the spirit of putting others first has helped build a leadership team at Mr. B, and not just employees. “I’m so proud of them,” Tim said. “This group advises and talks to me about the business. My ideas aren’t always the best ones, and I learn from them all the time.” Tim considers St. Croix Collections Founder, Bernhard Brenner, to be a mentor. He recalled something that he heard Mr. Brenner say once, and said he thinks of it often. “I was taking to Bernie, and he said ‘these guys aren’t my employees, they’re my partners’. I never forgot that, because it changes the way you work with others. I have great respect for what Mr. Brenner does. I watch him, and try to implement those ideas in my own business.”

Mr. B Clothing has a St. Croix Shop-in-Shop. They carry a large assortment of St. Croix clothing as a feature within the store. One of his favorite St. Croix items is the Merino Wool Crew Neck Sweater. Tim said that while it might not look like the flashiest item on the shelf, it’s a wardrobe staple and a cornerstone piece that you’ll never regret buying. “Ten years later, you’ll still be wearing this item,” said Tim. “We buy every color because it’s a classic piece, our customers love it, and you can wear it with everything.”

For Tim personally, what he loves about fashion is the flexibility. While he loves to wear a suit and tie to work, he also loves a nice T-shirt and a pair of jeans. He enjoys the change that clothing offers. And getting new product for the store is like Christmas every day. There’s always something new and exciting.

That same idea influences Tim’s approach to selling. He doesn’t have a favorite item to sell, instead, he tries to build a foundation for his customers to work from. Starting with simple, classic pieces is the way to go, then add color and vibrancy after. He’d always recommend four key things: a dark suit, sports coat, great pants, and then knitwear.

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Mr. B recently touched every corner of their 10,000 square foot space with a massive renovation. From the tailor shop and pressing room to the back room storage to the front of the store customer space, nothing was left untouched. Tim is very proud of the outcome. “It’s a step toward our future—showcasing a healthy business that’s strong and growing,” he said. “We’ve gotten tremendous accolades from our customers, and some of our regulars haven’t even seen the new store yet, so we feel the excitement of the renovation will live on for some time.”

The customers at Mr. B are never far from Tim’s mind. One of his favorite things in this business are the return visits from customers over the years. Like many people in the independent clothing business, the customers become friends. “They put their trust in you and they also see the success of our employees, see that they are doing what they love to do and do so well.”

One person who has seen the team at Mr. B in action often is St. Croix Sales Representative Eddie Gricius. Eddie has known Tim and the team for a long time, and he shared what a wonderful experience it is every time he visits them. “Tim is such an outstanding merchant, and has built one of the finest stores in Iowa,” Eddie shared. “But more than just a great store, Tim has a real passion for his business and customer service. He takes pride in his staff, and is always improving and giving back to his community as well. He’s just a person you want to be around, and I’m proud to call him my friend.”

Pride is something that Tim feels as well. He’s proud to still be in business when so many of his peers are not. To be in any industry for 40 years, and to be thriving and healthy, is an amazing accomplishment. Tim would be the first one to shun the spotlight and focus the attention onto his team at Mr. B instead. But nothing thrives without a leader, and we’re proud to shine the spotlight squarely on Tim Sitzmann for his passion and dedication, and wish our friends at Mr. B continued success!