Full page ad Town & Country Magazine, 1941.
1946 full page color ad.
Simply elegant Mark Cross bag was beautiful inside and out. It was offered for Fall 1947 on page 29 in the July issue of Handbags Illustrated.
"Scored for success both outside and in. Here is a bag which is as lovely to look at when open as it is when closed. Simple but bold-looking box with a gold clasp opens to boast a fitted suede lining plus an inside zipper pocket. Superb tailoring done by Mark Cross."
The HANDBAGS column on page 69 of the February 1950 "Handbags and Fashion Accessories" included this notice on Mark Cross.
Mark Cross Drops Wholesale Division
Due to the demands of their retail shops and mail order division, Mark Cross Company has decided to divert the full output of their factories in England and the United States to their own needs, and to discontinue their wholesale division.
The Gloves column of the February 1950 issue of "Handbags and Fashion Accessories," page 84, included this bit of news about Mark Cross production plant in Gloversville, N.Y.
J. Perrella Buys Mark Cross Plant
December 1951 Luggage & Leather Goods, page 40
Mark Cross: A store with 106 years of tradition
Leo Kaufman, key buyer for this world famous smart Fifth Avenue shop, says store's reputation for style is matched only by its insistence upon perfection, distinction and quality.
By MILTON J. KRISTT
UNDOUBTEDLY one of the most famous names in luggage and leather goods is Mark Cross—a name, steeped in a tradition of quality and elegance in leather for well over a hundred years, which proudly adorns one of the most extraordinary establishments selling to those who love fine things.
Located in that section of New York's Fifth Avenue known as the "Fabulous Fifties,' the Mark Cross shop caters to the whims of a discriminating public and its famous crest, embossed or engraved on everything that crosses its counters, is known throughout the world.
The store's reputation in the field as a style leader is matched only by the insistence upon perfection and quality that is almost a fetish with Leo Kaufman, the man who buys a great percentage of what this store has for sale.
While regarded by some as a store of high prices, Mr. Kaufman says that is not so. "Mark Cross," he said, "is not a high priced store if you're buying quality. It is only high priced if you're buying price. As a matter of fact," he added, "our prices compare favorably with those of any shop in town."
That a Mark Cross item is something more than special can be seen from the care and planning that goes into each idea before it is offered for sale.
First, it is an individual, preconceived, planned and merchandisable unit in the minds of Mr. Kaufman and president of the store, Gerald Murphy. It may originate at any of the daily meetings between the men where it is discussed, put on paper and diagrammed in detail. It is then made into a sample.
Because specifications are high, rarely does the first sample meet with final approval. After further meetings and discusions and many samples later, the idea finally emerges as a sleek and beautiful piece of leather-ware on which the store is proud to put its stamp of approval—the Mark Cross crest.
Always Maintain Standards
Such is the insistence on perfection of this remarkable institution which started as manufacturers and purveyors of harnesses and saddles 106 years ago. Mark Cross, during these years in business, has always maintained a high standard and has never given way to the sensationalism of price cutting now so prevalent on the mercantile scene.
True, the store has seen turbulent business conditions in its five score and six years, but then, what store hasn't? But despite its ups and downs, Mr. Murphy, upon whose shoulders rests the burden of the over-all success of the store, feels the business will continue to grow to even greater proportions because of its policy of satisfying the customer above anything else. To this end the buying staff of the luggage and leather goods departments, headed by Mr. Kaufman, has dedicated itself. Always on the alert for something new and different, he says: "You just don't go out and buy—you go out and buy for Mark Cross customers."
While it is an easy matter to change a row of stitching, add an extra pocket or use thicker binding on luggage, this is not the policy of Mark Cross' vast operation. "However, little details are most important," says Mr. Kaufman, "because we know our customers expect it of us. It must be just the right handle, stitching must be just so, leather must have a certain suppleness and the finished product must be functional as well as fine and beautiful. No excess pockets, no gingerbread—nothing is added to an item without a purpose. This is what has given Mark Cross the name it has in leather goods."
To successfully buy for this company with such rigid specifications, Leo Kaufman has both the experience and the ability, having risen from the ranks to become one of the top executives of the company. He also plays a key role in designing and styling most of the hundreds of items sold by his departments.
When he first entered the Mark Cross family as a strapping youth of 23, more than a quarter of a century ago, he had just come from his native Czechoslovakia and this was his first job in this country. Dispatching trunks to the retail store was not his idea of learning a business, and after the Christmas rush he requested a transfer to another department. The request was granted and he became a file clerk but still it wasn't what he wanted. The stockroom, where he could learn the operation of the store and its merchandise, was his goal and he was transferred there.
Learning all that he could about his job and the store, Leo, with his accumulated savings, left to enter a venture for himself in another field. When the depression came, several years later, circumstances brought him back to his first love—Mark Cross—where he again took up duties in the stockroom. This was in 1933. During the intervening years Mr. Kaufman's rise has been steady. From the stockroom he was made assistant buyer of flat goods, then buyer and, when the store management consolidated many buying duties in 1949, he was named buyer for four important departments. Included in the group, in addition to luggage, are brief cases, wallets and billfolds, travel accessories, and related items.
With basic ideas formulated during his years as assistant buyer, Mr. Kaufman's department does a greater volume today than ever before. Gone are all the slow moving items, the branded merchandise and most of the sporting equipment. In their place are current best sellers, such as the popular duffle bag luggage, and merchandise bearing only the Mark Cross crest. Constantly on the alert to make his departments a better place to shop and a greater source of revenue to the company, Mr. Kaufman has developed a technique with his sales personnel and suppliers that has so pleased top management that he has practically a free hand in his operation.
To continually sell the huge quantities of merchandise that this shop does, it strives at all times for complete customer satisfaction and each piece offered for sale must have distinction. "We make our customers feel that anything bought in our shop is in a class by itself," said Mr. Kaufman.
While functionalism is the first precept, the quality and styling play such an important part in the end product that each salesperson must be kept abreast of the innovations cropping up almost daily.
All Features Important
Keeping sales personnel informed on latest developments, shop policy and merchandising techniques is an all-year job. There are two regularly scheduled meetings a year, plus any number of small informal sessions taking place either in Leo's office or right on the sales floor. No feature in a new piece of merchandise is too insignificant to point up. "I feel the staff should know as much about the merchandise it sells as I do," he said. "We take pride in our salesmanship, just as we take pride in the merchandise we sell. We never 'high pressure' customers, nor do we sell anything from which we feel the customer would not receive complete satisfaction." Pleasant informality marks the association between the buyer and his staff. This type of association pays off because each person is made to feel he is an important part in the success of the shop. While the retail operation accounts for a great percentage of all sales, Mark Cross does an excellent job with mail and telephone orders, sending merchandise to nearly every country on the globe. For instance, not. long ago the Maharajah of a near eastern empire ordered a passport case with a gold emblem. The case retailed for $7.50 and the emblem, made by a highly experienced craftsman, cost $75. This sale was an unusual one, to be sure, but it was one of 5,000 passport cases sold during the past year. Though satisfied customers are the
best advertisement, the shop doesn't let that alone do its selling. It has over 125,000 names on its mailing list which regularly receive direct mail advertisements and twice a year a beautifully illustrated catalog.
Windows Changed Often
Also, there are newspaper and magazine advertisements which appear regularly, stressing quality, style and distinction. Windows which are used effectively and changed frequently, are themed to a current event, a store event or the season. Because the windows are the shop's main showcase, here are placed the unusual, the smart and the headliners that draw shoppers into the store.
Despite the infinite care with which each piece of merchandise is made and inspected, there are, nevertheless, a few returns for either credit or new merchandise. These returns are so rare, however, that the subject is hardly worthy of mention. The reasons for them are usually attributable to some invisible flaw.
To illustrate how well the merchandise stands the test of time and use, Leo tells the story of the seven-foot Texan who stalked into the shop one day and slapped a practically new wallet on the counter. "I want another wallet," he demanded, explaining that he had had this one for ten years and he was getting tired of it. He didn't think it would ever wear out, either. So Leo sold him a wallet made of ostrich and as the fellow left, murmured to himself, "Well, that'll hold him for at least thirty years!"
We asked Leo what the height of his ambition was. "I would like," he said with a twinkle in his eye, "to walk in the office of W. S. McMenemy, executive vice-president and treasurer of the store, at the end of the year and tell him that I've spent only two-thirds of my allotted budget for my departments and that business has increased 27 percent. . . ." Knowing the way Leo does things, it looks like Mr. McMenemy may have that visit sooner than he thinks.