Published December 09, 2012
Saying so long to The GuardsmanROLF BOONE
A year removed from college and Larry Blume realized that standing out in the rain working in construction was not for him. So he opened The Guardsman Menswear & Tuxedo, a Lacey business that has stood the test of time since 1966. But now it’s time to say goodbye. Blume, 70, said his friends kept bugging him about when he was going to retire, so he’s finally going to do it. His last day is Dec. 31. “It’s just time,” he said. Business, too, had slowed, Blume said, and running a business had become harder over the years. He always enjoyed his customers, he said, but increasingly the business had become more about paperwork and meeting regulations. The customers helped, he said. “That’s what kept me here,” Blume said. “I made a lot of friends.” The Guardsman spent most of its history inside South Sound Center in Lacey, the one-time indoor mall developed by his father, Bob Blume. A portion of the mall was later sold to Target and it was enclosed. The Guardsman moved to a new location after that, but it was still on South Sound Center property. Another change for the business, which sells suits, slacks and other menswear items, was what people wore to work. There was a time when everyone wore a suit to work, he said. “The workplace has become much more casual,” Blume said. Still, the business had its good years, and at one point had four full-time employees, he said. The business also rented tuxedos, a part of the business that remained steady and that helped with cash flow when things got slow, he said. Once the business closes, it will leave G. Miller in downtown Olympia as one of the last independent menswear stores in Thurston County. Owner Greg Miller said Blume was a good competitor over the years, and that he considers him more of a friend than competition, often running into him at community events. Blume also would attend an apparel trade show that Miller put on twice a year, he said. “He’ll be missed,” Miller said, recalling that Blume would go out his way to help him if there was a certain item that he needed for the store. The decision to retire now means Blume can go on vacation for “more than three days,” he said. He has a bucket list, wanting to travel to Canada, visit some U.S. national parks and to see the Seattle Mariners at spring training. “I won’t have a problem finding things to do,” he said. Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403
@rolf_booneThe Guardsman Menswear & Tuxedo Owner: Larry Blume Location: 701 Sleater-Kinney Road SE, Lacey Years in business: 46. Final day in business: Dec. 31. Rather than sell the business, Blume is liquidating his inventory. About half his inventory has been sold so far, he said. Hours: 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Did you know?
Larry Blume is the son of Bob Blume, the well-known real estate developer who formed Capital Development Co. and later developed Lacey’s South Sound Center.