SIC 5699

This industry consists of establishments primarily engaged in the retail sale of specialized apparel and accessories, such as bathing suits, belts, raincoats, riding and other sports apparel, T-shirts, umbrellas, uniforms, and wigs and toupees. This industry also includes men's and women's custom tailors.

NAICS Code(s)

315000 (Included in Apparel Manufacturing Subsector Based on Type of Garment Produced)

448190 (Other Clothing Stores)

448150 (Clothing Accessories Stores)

A few of the items that are categorized within this industry are uniforms and work clothing, costumes and wigs, sports apparel, customized clothing and apparel, custom tailoring, including custom shirts, designer apparel, formal wear, leather garments, square dance apparel, costumes, masquerade or theatrical, marine apparel, and military goods and regalia. The sector that includes miscellaneous apparel and accessory stores represents the majority of retail stores, as well as market share. That was followed by sports apparel, which represented more than 15 percent of the market.

In 2001, the U.S. Census Bureau reported 5,860 establishments engaged in the retail sale of specialized apparel and accessories. The industry employed approximately 28,860 people. The industry shared more than $10 million for 2003. The majority of establishments were small—employing less than five people. In 2001, 1,850 companies had less than five employees. States with the highest number of establishments were California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

In 1998, the four industry leaders brought in more than 90 percent of the industry's total sales of $275 million. The industry leader, Lost Arrow, Inc., had $170 million in annual sales in 1998 and employed 900 people at its retail chain stores. Life Uniforms and Shoe Shops Corp. of Missouri, the second largest company, took in an estimated $76 million in sales in 1998 and employed more than 1,300 people. Other industry leaders included Crazy Shirts Inc., with $25 million; Retail Star, with $12 million in sales; and Norcostco Inc., also with $12 million. The remainder averaged less than $5 million in annual sales. Cintas Uniforms of Cincinnati, Ohio, was the largest supplier of uniforms within the United States. Cintas posted annual sales of $2.7 million for 2003.

SIC 5699 Miscellaneous Apparel and Accessory Stores

Despite gains made in the late 1990s, the industry was cautious and mindful of a possible economic downturn in the future. Various apparel and accessory stores began focusing on cash rich teens as a primary market. Though discount stores and home shopping were direct competitors, smaller establishments lured back customers by repositioning themselves in the marketplace. A greater threat was the Internet, which emerged in the late 1990s as a potent retail force. Many companies chose to fight fire with fire by establishing a presence on the World Wide Web, such as and

The structure and organization of stores in the industry is similar to that of the retail apparel and shoe business. Establishments are either chain stores or individually owned.

Large companies own distribution centers, where merchandise is sent by manufacturers, held for a short time, then shipped to outlets or stores. Manufacturers' sales representatives and the retailers' merchandise buyers link the manufacturer and retailer. Small retailers generally do not own distribution centers. They tend to purchase inventory from distributors representing several manufacturers, including items solicited through distributor catalogs.

Unlike other stores in the fashion industry, establishments dealing in miscellaneous apparel and accessories traditionally have relied on catalogs and the Web, and less on television and magazines for advertising and customer sales. The specialty nature of the business gave the stores smaller share of the apparel market.

Further Reading

D & B Sales & Marketing Solutions, May 2004. Available from .

Hoover's Company Profiles, May 2004. Available from .

U.S. Census Bureau. Statistics of U.S. Businesses 2001. May 2004. Available from .

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