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STANLEY FIRKSER: His Norman's Stores Transformed Retailing in East Michigan

November 17, 2013       1 Comments
By: Dave Rogers

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Norman's store at 717 Adams Street comes alive with light and signs as the closeout continued Friday.
Stanley Firkser (white beard) with 1950s classmates at reunion in West Branch in 2008.

Stanley Firkser, 81, owner of Norman's Corporation, has retired and his iconic stores are going out in a blaze of "going out of business" signs.

Firkser, who according to his accountant changed his name to Stan Norman, made a great success selling ordinary stuff like Carhartt work clothes and hunting boots to a couple of generations of folks in Bay City, Tawas, Bad Axe, Gaylord and Standish. West Branch, his original home, in 2008 welcomed Firkser for a 1950s decade class reunion celebrating his graduation from West Branch High School in 1950.

Firkser was a tennis player, an oil speculator and a workaholic who often stayed up all night to communicate with sellers in Taiwan and other markets across the globe, getting the goods for the prices local folks wanted to pay.

He would sometimes stay awake for two or more days during the buying season and would be on the phone for hours to Far East wholesale firms.

Norman's was founded by his father, Russian-born Norman Firkser in the early 1930s. Norman Firkser was born in 1894 and died in 1971 at age 76 in Bay City.

Stanley Firkser and store executive Tim Sullivan, former mayor of Bay City, with help from attorney Kim Higgs, settled a longtime dispute with the City of Tawas in 2008 over the number of signs allowed on the store.

His retailing style included crowded inside the building merchandise, some reaching to the ceiling, outdoor displays of clothing, aggressively low bargain pricing, splashy ads and close store management.

Store employees said the closeout sales at the Bay City store, 717 Adams Street, would likely last until January.

The company's massive distribution center at 4177 Three Mile Road, Monitor Township, will also be sold, along with seven parcels of property, mostly at freeway intersections.

A 48.5 acre parcel at North Union and Monitor Road has already been sold by Albrecht Auction Service. According to Monitor Township Supervisor Gary Brandt the parcel has no sanitary sewer service and is zoned for agricultural use.

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
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