DUBLIN — The pair of men’s dress shoes caught a customer’s eye. They were the right size — and the price was right, too.
“I’ll take $20 for them,” said L. Caulion Peacock. “Try them on. It’s a one-way street, now.”
All sales these days are final. At 5 p.m. Saturday, as trick-or-treaters make their rounds in Dublin Mall, Peacock will close up shop one final time, marking an end to a 50-year career in retail of fine men’s clothing.
“This is what you might call an end to an era,” said Dwight Smith, who browsed through bargains on the tie rack Monday. “I’ve bought stuff from him since 1959. When I came out of the Army, I started trading with him.”
Peacock started as a salesman with Dunn’s Department Store in downtown Dublin. He was 19 at the time, and before long he was store manager. In 1980, he left to start his own business, Peacock’s Men’s Wear.
“My ambition in life was to own my own store, and I did accomplish that,” Peacock said.
He, in fact, has owned five businesses during his career.
He opened a Western wear store that his oldest son, Mike, ran while still in high school. He later bought a boot shop, and after moving his men’s clothing store to a new shopping center, he opened a ladies’ shoe shop next door.
That venture, however, was short-lived.
“I decided women’s shoes wasn’t my bag,” he said.
Peacock kept a presence downtown by starting an urban clothing store. Eventually, he either sold or closed the other shops, but kept Peacock’s, which has been in the mall for the past 17 years.
The secret to the longevity, he said, has been a focus on quality.
“Quality clothing and service, that sort of thing was what we’ve liked to pride ourselves in,” he said.
The store truly has been a family business, with him, his wife, Brenda, and son Mike pulling the long hours to make it a go.
Peacock has seen a lot of fashions come and go. The biggest change in the business, however, has been the emergence of the mass-marketing big chains, he said.
“You change with it as it evolves. ... The thing that has kept independents in business has been the quality of service that we have rendered as opposed to them.”
The Peacock name still will be in the men’s clothing business, but in a new location.
Next month, Mike Peacock will open a new formal wear store featuring tuxedo rentals and tailoring.
As for his parents, they look forward to spending more time with their five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. And catching up on some “things around the house,” Brenda Peacock said.
“Dublin and Laurens County have been good to us,” she said. “We thank them for all their support over the years. It’s just time to retire.”
That doesn’t mean calling it quits is going to be easy for her husband, not after a half-century of helping men look their best.
“He’s going to miss seeing all his friends, seeing everybody.”
To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.