‘Herb’ Philipson’s up for sale

Published Jan 16, 2018 at 11:44am

After 67 years of serving customers in Rome and throughout central New York, “Herb” Philipson’s Army & Navy Store is now up for sale.

Gary Philipson, president of “Herb” Philipson’s, said Monday he has decided to put his family’s nine-store retail chain up for sale and feels that “new energy” and a “fresh vision” are needed to go forward in an increasingly competitive retail environment. 

“While we have a great company and an excellent reputation as a trusted place to shop, many factors have contributed to this difficult choice,” Philipson said in a statement. “The retail environment has changed over the past few years as more and more customers are choosing to shop online, and traffic coming to our stores continues to decline. The cold weather, which has been our bread and butter, is not a given anymore to generate sales.  Finally, the combination of my age, my health challenges, and the realization that my kids are not interested in taking over the business, has forced me to make these hard choices.”

He said, “We plan to operate all nine stores going forward and expect that our loyal customers will continue to shop with us, and with the next owner as well.” 

Known as “Outfitters for the Great Outdoors,” “Herb” Philipson’s was founded by Gary’s father, Herb, in 1951 when he opened the first store in Rome. Since then, it was known to become central New York’s premier retailer for outdoor and casual apparel, workwear and footwear, and sporting and surplus goods at what Philipson deemed “price fighter” prices. 

“Herb” Philipson’s has stores in Rome, Oneida, New Hartford, Herkimer, Watertown, Newark, Liverpool, Dewitt and Oswego. 

Gary Philipson was unavailable for additional comment today, according to a company announcement, and questions regarding the announcement were referred to Dave Peroni, the retail chain’s marketing manager.

Herb Philipson’s has been a long-time member and contributor to the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce, and President William K. Guglielmo thanked the Philipsons for being a major influence on the local economy today.

“We are appreciative of Gary’s efforts, as well as his dad’s before him, as being a major employer in the community, and we wish Gary and his family well,” Guglielmo said. “If there is a change in ownership, we look forward to meeting with the new people involved.”

Guglielmo said he has fond memories of the local staple’s main location downtown, as well as its more recent move to Black River Boulevard and the store’s expansion throughout central New York. As for continuing to be a great supporter of the local economy, the chamber president said he hopes Herb’s will still be a major employer in Rome despite the change in ownership.

“Anytime there’s a change of ownership in any business, the first concern is jobs and whether those jobs would stay in the community,” Guglielmo said. “In this case, we’re hoping they would. We’re hoping people continue to work at their jobs, and maybe there will be more. Another concern is the goods and services the business buys locally, will that continue, because it’s certainly helpful to those businesses and the local economy? Third would be the non-profit organization contributions. Herb Philipson’s has been a loyal supporter of the Rome Chamber of Commerce. They have participated in our home show, and sponsored many chamber events.”

“Philipson’s has been a great community partner for decades and also a very successful family-owned retailer,” said Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo today. “The retail landscape is changing, and with family-owned businesses if there is no defined succession plan, you have to make a decision. And I’m sure that’s what Gary and his family are doing to assure the continued growth of the company.”

Izzo continued: “Hopefully the family will be able to reach a decision with a retailer that will keep all the locations opens. And Rome is the flagship store so we’d hope it would stay the hub for the company.” She added, “The Philipsons are very community minded and they will keep our best interest in heart in negotiations of a possible sale.”

Izzo, who had to step away from her own business when she became mayor, said she had some conversations with the family when they were planning a move to the new warehouse, “but not since then. I will reach out to Gary and get his thoughts. I’m sure this is difficult for them.”