SOMERS POINT - For Fred Dodd, running a business means long days and 80-plus hour work weeks.
Dodd owns The Hub, a work and leisure retail clothing store in Somers Point and Mays Landing, with his wife Carol.
"We have almost a full kitchen in the back because you're here more than you're home," said Dodd, 73, of Egg Harbor Township.
Dodd, a former Atlantic City toy store owner who purchased the clothing business in 1982, said the many hours are part of customer service. So is his personality and good-natured teasing with long-time customers, said his wife.
"It's also tied to personal service," Fred Dodd said. "We get to know our customers. I tell people all the time you can be a customer anywhere. We create relationships."
There were more than 43,000 retail clothing stores in New Jersey in 2011, the latest year available, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Atlantic County alone had 144, the data says.
The Hub caters especially to rugged work clothes and boots. Reconstruction efforts stemming from rebuilding from disasters such as Hurricane Sandy may be contributing to increased sales for the first four months of the year, Carol Dodd said.
Started in 1954, The Hub gets its name from its original location in a prominent spot on Main Street in Pleasantville, Fred Dodd said. Over the years, it had evolved from an Army Navy store in the 1950s to a uniform store before focusing on work clothes and apparel, he said.
Dodd grew up in the toy business, where as a young man he worked part time as a stock boy at Taber's Toyland in Atlantic City. He grew up in the business and bought the company in 1968, he said.
When he was looking for a place to relocate the store in the early 1980s, he learned The Hub was for sale and decided to buy it.
Dodd said the only real similarity between the toy business and the clothing business is they are both retail.
"I have found that you can do anything if you really put your head to it. The customers, the salespeople and the help teach you," he said.
Dodd said his business requires he keep plenty of inventory in the stores. It stocks 75 styles of boots in most sizes. A recent check of inventory at the Somers Point store revealed he stocked about 2,700 pair of boots on the shelves and in storage rooms.
"When you come in and want a size nine, if I don't have your size it doesn't matter if I have no boots," he said.
Contact Brian Ianieri:
Locations: 273 New Road in Somers Point; 6167 Harding Highway in Mays Landing
Owners: Fred and Carol Dodd, of Egg Harbor Township
Revenue: Not disclosed
Phone: 609-926-0688 (Somers Point); 609-625-2266 (Mays Landing)