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March 25, 2015

Harry Rosen speaks to Fashion Merchandising students.

Canadian retail icon Harry Rosen visited Fanshawe College on March 24, 2015, to speak with roughly 100 Fashion Merchandising students. During the two-hour discussion, Rosen imparted valuable business and customer service advice, weighed in on current fashion trends and recounted how he grew his business from a modest storefront in Toronto into a leading menswear retailer with 16 stores across Canada with annual sales exceeding $300 million.

photo of Harry RosenRosen (right) was working as a part-time stock boy in a small menswear store in downtown Toronto when he realized his future lay in the retail business. "I deduced that men don't like shopping because they were easily intimidated," he said. "I realized that if I get (men) to trust me, wonderful things would happen." Once he opened his first store in 1954, Rosen began keeping meticulous records of his clients which he used to get a sense of the clothing that would appeal to them.

"Retail is constantly changing," said the 83-year-old Rosen. He explained how he has always made a point of observing people at work and at play to understand their attitudes, their values, their language and their tastes. "It's essential to stay current and stay connected with your customers. To this day, I like to think I understand how youth think. The retail graveyard is loaded with merchants who failed to notice the signs of renewal."

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