In many ways, not much has changed at the Workingman's Store since it opened in downtown Marietta in 1921. The business still caters to the same salt of the earth kind of workers-the kind that need tough boots and clothes on a budget-that were walking through the doors 90-plus years ago.
But a closer look will show that between the heavy denim and thick Carhartt overalls, lots of subtle tweaks and additions have helped shape the business and cement its long-lasting success.
"We've moved into a lot of industrial type clothing-flame retardant type clothing for oil and gas workers, safety footwear for industrial plant workers.
Photo courtesy of Marietta College Special Collections
The Workingman’s Store is pictured at its former Greene Street location in 1959. The store moved to its present location on Putnam Street after the Greene Street location was badly damaged by a fire in 1977.
JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Workingman’s Store owners John Schramm, right, and Dave Schramm, center, talk with their father Carlton Schramm outside the business earlier this month. John and Dave are descendants of Fred P. Bay, who co-founded the store in 1921.
JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Carlton Schramm, father of the current owners of the Workingman’s Store, shows some of the vintage posters created for the store by a former owner.
"We do uniforms-police, fire, and EMS," explained Dave Schramm, great-grandson of one of the store's two founders.
Today the business is owned and operated by Dave and his brother John Schramm, while sister Susan Satterfield is a shareholder.
One of the reasons the business remains successful is that it adapts to the changing, or sometimes static, needs of the customers, said Dave.
At a glance
Marietta Store Hours
Monday through Thursday-9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday-9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday-9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
1921: Fred P. Bay and Will Koester open the Workingman's Store at 107 Greene St., Marietta.
Early 1940s: Bay family purchases Koester's portion of the business.
1975: Joan (Bay) Schramm purchases the business from her parents.
1977: After a fire in a neighboring business, the Workingman's Store relocates to its current location at 113 Putnam St.
1982: Joan's children-David Schramm, John Schramm, and Susan Satterfield- take over ownership of the company.
1985: A downtown Parkersburg location is opened.
2001: The Parkersburg Workingman's Store is moved to its current location at 1201 Grand Central Ave., Vienna.
2004: Company starts online sales.
Source: Times research.
When founders Fred P. Bay and Will Koester opened the store at 107 Greene St., the store filled a void, he said.
"The oil and gas people were in town back then and the farmers. So there was a need for that," Dave said of the business.
The way people shop has changed dramatically over the years, noted Dave's father Carlton Schramm, 81, who still occasionally works at the store.
"Saturday was the biggest night in the week," said Carlton, recalling the late 50s and early 60s era.
Back then the store was closed Wednesday afternoon and all day Sundays, but stayed open until 9 p.m. on Saturdays. The late nights were more than busy-they were an event for downtown shoppers, he said.
"People would come in from all over the county. There were no big stores, no malls. So people would wander around the streets and talk to everybody," recalled Carlton.
Also a big event in the store's history was when denim, traditionally reserved for farm work, became a fashion item, recalled Carlton.
"We went from selling...maybe 400 pair a year to farm people to selling 1,000 to 2,000 pair. We became the jean capital," he joked.
Now the store continues to serve up what the people want, not just locally, but internationally.
With the 2004 addition of the store's website, workgear.com, the store started selling its products to a global audience, said Dave.
The Marietta business has shipped to Canada, Mexico, Australia and Europe, he said.
"I think a lot of it is people want certain types of American products, like Dickies and certain types of boots," he speculated.
The business has also expanded on its clothing offerings while staying true to its workforce roots. For the past decade the store has offered tuxedo rentals, an addition which makes sense, said Dave.
"Measuring for uniforms and measuring for tuxes, it's all the same," he said.
Their continual efforts to adapt have played a role in the company's long-term success.
But that adaptation, which takes customer's wants and needs into consideration, also hints at the store's larger arching theme of success.
"There's always been really great quality service at a great price. We've always been a full-service, customer-oriented business," Dave said.