The downtown Brooks Brothers store is closing, reportedly due to unrealized plans to relocate to a new space in the long-delayed Grand Avenue project. Most will mourn the end of that branch of the upscale clothier’s 71-year-old Los Angeles tradition, and normally I would too. But this time it’s a bit personal. So instead I will mourn for those who’ve lost their jobs, but say good riddance to the establishment in my most begrudging, bitter voice.
One of my first revolving lines credit was with Brooks Brothers. I got it in 1986 or ’87. It wasn’t much, a few hundred bucks, but I was proud of it. Fast forward to when my first marriage broke apart there were a lot of reasons, but one of the prevailing ones was we were just plain young and stupid with our finances. We bought a pair of top-of-the-line VW Jettas, we splurged on laptops and desktop computers. My first cellphone was in 1988, an in-car Mitsubishi job that cost $1,200, and back then there were no free minutes — in fact you were lucky if the per-minute charge was 20 cents.It didn’t take long to run up a bill close to $1000.
That was just one example of the ridiculous crap that we couldn’t afford and wouldn’t have had except for the the scary level of credit we’d been able to build up as little more than 20-somethings with no assets.
When bills came due and past due and past-past due and then the credit cards got canceled and creditors started calling, the one company that never bothered me was Brooks Brothers in large part because at that time I owed them nothing… but that didn’t stop other companies with which I maintained zero balances from sniffing the wind and closing accounts.
When all was said and done and I’d fully scorched my credit card landscape in the early 1990s, I’d gone from having a Dayrunner organizer stuffed with plastic, to a simple wallet that held my driver license and my Brooks Brother credit card.