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Man Of The House

Bringing linens out of the closet turned this retail maverick into a household name.

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This story appears in the January 1996 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When the department store muckety-mucks he worked for told divisional merchandising manager Bill Stroud to downsize the linen department in their stores, he felt a familiar twinge. It was 1979, and it wasn't the first time the geniuses in charge had decided to think small.

Stroud had already been through the shrinkage process as a merchandiser for the record department. Record store chains had moved in and made department store record departments obsolete. When Stroud suggested expanding his department to compete, he was met instead with an order to downsize. Eventually, the department folded.

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