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GRAND FORKS (AP) - A men's clothing store that is considered an institution in this city is going out of business.

Silverman's was started a century ago when its founder, Herman Silverman, fled the czar's Russia and came to America. His grandson, Steve Silverman, said he will close the store by the end of the year.

"We've felt this coming on for a long time," said Silverman, 52. "I've developed a photography business. Not only is that my passion, but it's the right direction."

Even longtime competitors mourn the passing of Silverman's.

"We hate to see that," said John Stern, who with his brother, Rick, owns Straus Clothing in Fargo. "They were the biggest single men's retailer in North Dakota at one time, in the 1980s."

Silverman's had stores in Fargo and Sioux Falls, S.D., for a few years in the 1990s.

"My grandfather first peddled clothing door-to-door to farmers," Silverman said. "He used a horse and wagon."

At the store's peak in the early 1980s, Silverman's employed 40 people. There currently are six workers, including Silverman.

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The industry has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, Silverman said.

Fashion became less linked to higher-quality, formal attire and linked more to quickly changing trends. Volume-business stores such as Wal-Mart and Target helped change customers' wants, and it meant Silverman's often paid wholesale prices that were as high as retail prices at the national chain stores.

"The number of suits being sold in this country is down 90 percent from 20 years ago," Silverman said. "I'm not bemoaning that fact. That's just the way it is."

Silverman said he will continue a contract uniform business started 40 years ago. Many of the postal workers and law enforcement officers in the region wear uniforms bought through Silverman's.

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