Harold’s in the Heights Is Closing Down

Not even 3 years after the store merged with a local competitor, the owners of Harold’s in the Heights has announced it is going out of business. Harold Wiesenthal founded the independent men’s clothing shop in 1950, a date its storefront at the corner of 19th St. and Ashland St. still screams daily to passersby. Since 2008, the store has been a part of Norton Ditto. Wiesenthal’s successor — his son Michael — left the company early last year.

Photo: Gordon Tillman

36 Comment

  • Walmart’s first victim, and the store hasn’t even broken ground yet! Looks like all the people in the Heights will be trading their $1,000 custom fitted suits for Walmart’s finest $129 made-in-China-from-a-generic-pattern duds.

  • NO NO NO!I met Harold years ago when working in the retail trade. A gentleman, and a great merchant.He use to drive to my store in the Galleria area to give me rodeo tickets for my children.Those sons, however,were a different story.I’ll stop here.

  • …seriously? someone blamed this on WalMart? really?

  • I think Jason was joking… Anyway, all my suits are from Harold’s, and I got a nice cashmere sweater there in January. It was a nice store and I regret its passing.

  • agreed…

  • Clearly the storefront is waaayyy to retro looking. Maybe if they adopted the Weingarten faux Tuscan stuccover they’d draw more customers. In fact, same could probably be said for all the stores on 19th St.

  • Didn’t keep up with the times. Sorry, but Harold’s was an “old man” clothing store to the end. Not suggesting that they sell Ed Hardy, but when your clientele is aging into non-existence, you have to do something to adjust.

  • I always like the MCM look of the store. How much for the sign Harold?

  • Same with Kaplan’s. Where’s all the “Shop Local” heights crowd?? Oh yeah, it’s only shop local if it suits your taste.

  • Very sad to see this. I have been buying suits and custom shirts there since 1988. Mostly Oxxford and Hickey Freeman.

    Damn you Wal-Mart! Those fickle Heightsonians need to be punished!

  • I think we can all come together on this one and declare a unanimous burning desire for Weingarten to open up a new IHOS at this location.

  • Well that’s not good at all. It doesn’t have anything to do with Walmart…just an aging business without strategic agility…

  • Harold’s was my primary clothing store…great leather in shoes, belts, stylish italian shirts, and suits. I am very sad to see it go.

  • Suits? Do people still wear those? The last time I wore one was to a funeral 10 years ago. Maybe that’s part of the problem?

  • Well, Steve, some people do still wear suits. But Harold’s also has dress shirts, slacks, shoes, casual clothes, women’s clothes, etc. I’m sure increased competition, a certain stodginess (which I, for one, appreciated), and a slightly out-of-the-way location did it in. That happens and I can live with it, but I sure hate to see them go. Their tailors had a real knack for getting it cut just right.

  • Sad to see Harold’s go.. Although in the current economy I’m not terribly surprised.. Even considering Houston is doing better than the rest of the country, as an upscale, higher priced boutique clothing shop, it probably was inevitable unless people’s disposable income increases.

    I’ve tried shopping there for tuxedo accessories and it was terribly expensive, even more so than high-end department stores. I’m guessing price competition won this time.

  • I blame all the birkenstock wearing turds who invaded The Heights all the while pretending they inventend it.

  • Of course he does not wear a suit. He works at Oshmans. This place had great attire.

  • Harold’s is/was a gem. For those of you who think their customers are being aged into non-existence or that their clothing is dated, I would like non-fat milk with my latte…thanks.

  • I always intended to go inside, but never did. My loss.

  • Harold was not only a gentleman, but a great salesman. I’ll never forget he personally talked my super conservative dad into buying a pink plaid suit for Easter in 1974. My dad paid a fortune for it and was so excited that Harold helped him personally. He wore the suit twice. That suit was awesome!

    I’m a big Heights-area shop supporter, also shopped at Kaplan’s when I could, but, unfortunately, Harold’s didn’t sell clothing that fit my casual style. It’s really a sad loss.

  • At Harold’s you could find gentleman’s furnishings like pocket square or braces when they were hard to find anywhere else, and Kaplan’s Ben-Hur had the best selection of wedding and baby shower gifts and presents for ladies of a certain age. They’ll be missed.

  • Sorry, but all the damn dress shirts they sell are way to oversized for the slim fit trim fit crowd. I can’t shop at a place where I could put sticks in the shirts and camp out in them overnight. They needed more selection. Not just catering to one set of buyers.

  • I think the increased casual nature of business attire really hurt the industry. Look how often Jos. A Banks and Mens Wearhouse are having 2 for 1 sales.

  • I agree with Pablo. A lot of professional men are wearing khakis and company-branded polos or twill shirts now. Not so sure about who the competition for Harold’s was. I don’t know where you would find that kind of high end traditional stuff now, maybe Norton Ditto? Not in any of the chain department stores, that’s for sure. And certainly not at JAB or Men’s Wearhouse.

  • Out of 200 people, the only men at my office who DON’T wear suits are the mail room and IT workers. The jacket is hung on the back of one’s door, but it’s definitely worn into the building. This news has sent a few shock waves here.

  • Harold’s weathered worse economic times and has maintained a customer base. They sell the same brands as Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. They also survived when the Heights was “a bad area” so I doubt the “out of the way location” has anything to do with it.

    I fear it’s a case a generational apathy. The next generation doesn’t care about the business and would rather do without.

    I hope, hope, hope whomever takes over that building leaves the facade in tact. It’s a gorgeous building and a gem. I for one will miss buying my husband’s fathers day gifts there and seeing the women’s clothes which I have no occasion to wear in the window.

  • It’s called customer service. Harold often loaded rolling racks and drove to the Lanier house, the Mecom house, the Cullen house, etc.etc.Try getting that kind of treatment from Wal-mart.He took me out to lunch once (back in the 90’s) and told me his sons were pressuring him to close the Heights location and re-open in Highland Village.He wasn’t willing to do that, because he owned the property. And he also owns half the street.

  • That’s the thing about family businesses. Not every generation is as enthusiastic or as gifted as the previous one.

    I just hope that whatever takes that spot is not a generic chain store.

  • Correction. He does not own half of the street. He owns 125′ of frontage along 19th starting at his shop on the corner. I would be willing to guess he is ready to get out of the business. I don’t really think he was squeezed out. He has many years of a unique business with an extraordinary clientele to look back on fondly.

    And also? CRAIG…all the turds in the Heights.. is really nice. First? look around lately? I think the “Birkenstock” generation has either moved on or changed their shoes. The Heights demographic is a little younger than that now, and doesnt probably appreciate being called turds. Its a fairly successful group of urban dwellers who like a neighborhood feel and a little local flavor and history. Pretty sure they don’t think they created it. But they are willing to pay the price tag to live there.

  • THAT would be a great location for a Trader Joe’s. Some one make that happen…

  • Defending my Birks. They are not your mother’s (or grandmother’s/grandfather’s) Birkenstocks anymore!

    They’re now in animal prints, florals, plaids etc. Even rhinestones! They make hiking boots and garden clogs. Nurse’s clogs and flip flops. Heidi Klum has a pricey line of them and she’s no baby boomer.

    OK, rant over. (I seriously doubt that many folks in Heights have ever tried them)

  • I’m greatly saddened at this news…
    Unfortunately, just found this gem of a business a few months ago. Larry Klem (the gentleman who runs the President’s Room – named ‘cuz that’s where fmr prez Bush got all his duds) fit me for a fantastic suit for my wedding back in Feb.
    I must stay, I don’t make the kind of dough that would be necessary to shop at Harold’s day-in-day out. But i’ve never gotten anywhere near the customer service from ANY store that i got from Harold’s. Really want to make it back in before they close the doors for good.

    I hope this is a capital campaign to raise liquid and maybe there’s a chance the store won’t close???

    .. but… i guess the business is a bit of a dinosaur? it’s American consumerism that’s done them in (maybe some generational issues too… earlier post)! seems now we want all we can get for as cheap as possible and don’t care if the goods are essentially disposable.

    as for me… i’ll wear my Harold’s suit for the rest of my days. it’s quality goods.
    i morn the loss of this establishment.

  • Soory I am late here, but I no longer live in Houston and don’t often stop by to visit the swamp. Anyhooooo- Harold’s customers were NOT local. They were usually the downtown/laywer/banker crowd.
    But this is just the beginning. I have heard that the Heights Association will begin to push for liquor anywhere, thus my long ago prediction of the end of 19th as we know it will come to total fruition. It will all be neatah when it’s owned by Fertitta.

  • i’m a latina with 3 multiracial kids(black and Puerto Rican). I visited the Heights this year. the W 20th area is poorer and more diverse. now some of the houses are unkempt. Years ago the Heights was mostly white and Latino now there’s a lot interracial couples like me and blacks.