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Worn Well

Old friends build a sportswear empire on affordable prices and word-of-mouth.

Vital Stats: Steve Shore and Barry Prevor, both 42, of Steve & Barry's University Sportswear in Port Washington, New York

Company: Apparel chain featuring casual clothing and sportswear

Sales: $700 million reported for 2005

Buddy System: As teenagers, Prevor and Shore made and sold T-shirts at their local flea market and have since built an empire. Every item at their namesake store is priced under $10, and they do zero advertising. Their first big idea came in 1985, when the university seniors saw an opportunity to offer budget-minded students like themselves affordable collegiate apparel. They bought a store at the University of Pennsylvania (where Prevor went), familiarized themselves with the manufacturing process, and undercut the campus bookstore's prices.

Mall Rats: In 1998, with seven campus stores under their belt (they currently have four), Shore and Prevor opened their first mall store. Their growth has since been in the mall-based arena, with plans to increase from 125 to 200 mall and shopping center stores by year-end. They have over 350 licensing agreements with colleges, automobile companies and vari-ous other brands, and college apparel now brings in less than a third of their sales-they've branched out into casual clothing for the entire family under the Steve & Barry private label.

Cheap Thrills: Budget consciousness is "deeply ingrained within the company," says Prevor. "We only ship merchandise in full truckloads. We'll make a product's garment labels for the whole year and work with manufacturers to produce items in the off-season to have level production throughout the year-the lowest-cost way to do things."

Adds Shore, "We've been very successful in terms of giving people great clothing and great prices."

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This article was originally published in the April 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Worn Well.

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