For any of you heading to The Bash this Friday, there is a business integral to the event that has recently gone through the wringer in order to reopen its doors. Normally this is the time of year that Rob Geist, owner of Uncle Sam’s Army Navy Outfitters is thinking about just one thing – providing the best authentic military uniforms for people heading to The Bash.
Unfortunately there have been some snags in business operations due to building revamping issues that have made it very hard for Rob to even conduct business. As he puts it, “We basically have been working on upgrades to the 100-year old building for the last year and a half, so we had to close our doors to conduct the work. It started with all sorts of public safety stuff – improving access routes, exit signs, etc. We really had to plan on how we could respect the historical value of the building and still make the changes. The integrity of our business is respecting the history of clothing, so we wanted to tie the two together.
“It didn’t take long for the small scale work to escalate. We had to do a lot of research about what the Larkin Freight Warehouse was originally. The building is not just used to sell military items to the public, it’s also where we recycle all of our products. We bring things back to life, and that is the original green. In the past the clothing from the military was simply discarded. These days we work with theaters, Hollywood… we tie in all of the Americana and the true authentic products by working with a number of highly recognized fashion companies. We service the vintage fashion market and the military… we even work with Abercrombie and Ralph Lauren. We just sold stuff the other day to Levis and Victoria’s Secret.
“I had to do a lot of research regarding the building. Chris Hawley was a big help as was Howard Stanger at Canisius College. Our architect, John Knauth, who is 79 years old, really respected our wishes with the design work – this is an ongoing process and we’ll continue to make improvements. When we redid the front facade, we brought in vintage steps that the flagmen used to come down when the freight train passed. We needed to bring it up to modern day code – and that was extremely difficult. We built a handrail for the steps out of old store fixtures… it all ties in what we’re all about. We replaced 400 windowpanes, got new glass cut and refurbished the original oak – that was about 85% of the windows. We’re still working on the other 15%. We also worked on access issue for ADA compliancy – it was hard working with such an old building. We improved some of the old sidewalks in conjunction with what Howard Zemsky is doing in the Larkin District. We are bringing the building back to life, and at the same time the store underwent a major makeover while our doors were shut. We have a camping section, a fashion section, and even a section for military people who are heading back overseas (all Made in America, inspection ready items). We really get involved with community, whether that’s the military, The Larkin District, even our involvement with the Red Cross event, The
Now that business is back to running as smoothly as can be expected, here is the skinny on The Bash as it relates to Uncle Sam’s:
The Bash (aka MASH Bash – a Red Cross benefit) is coming up this Friday. That means that bash-goers are going to need to find military/medical outfits for the big day, and of course half the fun of the party is checking out all of the great uniforms. This year, Uncle Sam’s Army Navy Outfitters is back in business, stocking some of the most outrageous apparel to be found anywhere in the country – that’s no exaggeration. The military surplus store is the largest of its kind in the US, which means that they have the perfect gear to make Friday’s bash a memorable one.
If you’ve never paid a visit to this enormous warehouse filled with original surplus military goods, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s a real blast to see what’s in store – even the entranceway to Uncle Sam’s looks like a military bunker.
Uncle Sam’s Army Navy Outfitters
290 Larkin Street,
Mon. – Sat. 9-6