One imagines the perfect store to be something out of Cheers—an inviting neighborhood fixture where everybody knows your name. That ideal may not be a reality, but Boyds in Philadelphia comes pretty close. A Philly landmark since 1938, Boyds is the rare luxury emporium that stocks a full range of international heavy hitters without sacrificing the friendly, personable decorum of a local haberdasher. Here, sales aren’t just a transaction—they’re chapters in a years-long relationship between customer and store. Which is why, after 80 years and seismic shifts in the way we shop, Boyds is still an unparalleled retail destination.
The exceptional service begins before one even walks through the front door, thanks to a private parking lot for customers directly across from the store. It may sound trivial, but consider Boyds’ location—a prime city-center block just steps from Rittenhouse Square—and you can imagine the profit that could be made by selling that empty lot. That customer-first ethos informs everything at Boyds: The store employs 39 in-house tailors that will alter any purchase free of charge (an almost unheard-of practice that costs Boyds some million dollars annually); sports coats are hung by size rather than brand, which makes for easy, intuitive shopping; and purchases are followed up by handwritten thank-you notes. The salespeople, several of whom have been with the store for over 35 years, and their thoughtful manner are why people travel from across the Eastern Seaboard for the Boyds shopping experience. In 2017 alone, the store had nearly 1,200 clients from New York City—not because they couldn’t find comparable wares in the Big Apple but because Boyds’ service is in a league of its own.
Now on the tail end of a major renovation, all of Boyds’ old-school charm is equaled by contemporary appeal. Though the store is best known for men’s tailored clothing, the renovation gives women’s pride of place on the first floor, along with a new jewelry and accessories salon on the mezzanine. The second floor, which will debut in November, is dedicated to men’s sportswear, offering everything from the likes of Brunello Cucinelli and Loro Piana to more directional brands like Thom Browne and Stone Island. And if there were any doubt of Boyds keeping up with the times, the second floor’s sneaker bar with kicks from Maison Margiela, Raf Simons, and more makes it clear that this isn’t just a store for C-suite elites. The third floor is home to all men’s suiting, featuring an impressive range from brands such as Brioni, Kiton, and Isaia, as well as a private made-to-measure lounge. A handful of tailors have sewing stations on the sales floor—the retail equivalent of an open-kitchen restaurant. The store’s fourth floor will host a rotating series of pop-up shops, offering a space to experiment with brands and products beyond Boyds’ usual fare.
As Alex Gushner, great-grandson of the store’s founder and buyer for men’s sportswear, noted when describing Boyds’ new look: “Just like our client base, our salespeople and product range are a mix. There’s this hybrid blend that we’re catering to . . . the younger street-wear side feeds the tailored side as clients mature and their lifestyles change. We want to offer a luxury experience, regardless of price.” It’s precisely that attitude—that luxury is about service, not the number on a price tag—that makes shopping at Boyds such a distinct pleasure.