MANKATO — Matt J. Graif Clothing is changing hands from longtime owner Gary Kratzke to Randy Appel and Karissa Baukol.
Kratzke, who has owned the store since 1980, said he’s ready to retire.
The new owners are among the company’s suppliers. Their North Mankato company, F/X Fusion, designs clothes and sells them all over the country.
“For us, it’s a natural progression,” Appel said. They’ll sell some of their own brand and plan to expand into the big and tall category while keeping the suits, sport coats and tuxedos, he said.
“We’ll definitely add more inventory,” Appel said.
Over his 39 years at the store (some before he owned it), Kratzke said the changes to the downtown have been remarkable.
The store was originally along Front Street, which was eventually covered and became the Mankato Place Mall. The Intergovernmental Center and the civic center also changed the landscape.
The changes have “definitely helped,” he said. The store has moved a few times since 1963 but has always been in the same area. He’ll also remember his customers, some of whom said they were the second or third generation of their families to shop at Matt J. Graif Clothing.
“We had a great following, and that should continue under the new owners,” Kratzke said. He married into the family business; his first wife was the granddaughter of Matt J. Graif.
Corey Willard has managed the store for four years and will continue to do so under the new ownership.