About us

In 1905, F.L. Crooks took his experience in  retail sales to open a clothing store. Little did  he know what his little clothing store would grow into. As the online market changes so has F.L Crooks. Now the store has moved from  its original department store  format to that of a boutique allowing us to focus on what has made us successful for over a hundred years ... quality goods with impeccable service. We would like to introduce you to the new online face of  F.L Crooks & Co. with the launch of FLCROOKS.com. In 1906,  F.L. Crooks moved his store into what would  become its current home located on the corner of 6th and Main Street, giving the web site its  new address 539Main.com.   The store specialized in young men’s clothing,  men’s suits, silk ties, double breasted overcoats, dress shirts, and button on collars. In its new  location F.L. boasted the name the  “ Sunny Front” because of the way the  sun beat on the front of the store. F.L.’s brother, James M. Crooks became a partner after 12 years  as an on-the-road salesman. He  sold dry goods and hats to small rural general stores.  The venture was prosperous  enough to exchange a horse  drawn rig for the second automobile  in Clarion County. F.L. Retired in 1931. When F.L. Crooks retired, he and James  sold most of the store’s merchandise.  James found himself wth an established  clothing business and no merchandise to sell. Banks had little money available to  loan so James was able to borrow $2,000 from his mother to restock the store.  He moved across Main Street to the Kaufman Building where he remained for 17 years.  It was challenging to maintain trade during the Great Depression, but the  store grew. A master salesman, James used clever promotions. He kept the store open  until midnight, and, he welcomed locals to sit around the stove for  social time.  James conducted buying trips to Pittsburgh and New York City, returning with a vehicle packed to capacity and merchandise heavy on the roof. Shrewd bargaining skills allowed him to sell  merchandise at prices that customers could  afford - socks for 17 cents and overalls for 50 cents. During WWII, domestic goods were even harder  to find  and demand for men’s clothing slowed as many went to war.  James’ son, Don, a D-Day  survivor, returned from war in the fall of 1945.  Soon after  returning, and under the strong  suggestion of his mother, he set up a blind date  with Bernadette Hugus. Two years later they  would be married and Don would join the family  business. Post- war demand for goods far exceeded availability. When the store finally received a shipment of Woolrich  merchandise, customers lined up outside the store.  Don built a shoe store beside the Main Street store in 1947. When his brother Paul returned from military service,He managed the shoe store, and Don and Bernie managed the main street location.  Within a few years after WWII, space in the Kaufman building became cramped with no room to grow. James  purchased the Wilson Building and modernized the first  floor. The move, in 1957, established  one of the most complete and  up-to-date clothing stores in  western Pennsylvania. James was  involved with the store into the  1980’s. Don and his brother , Dickie,  opened a clothing store in Brookville.  Women became a target audience in the late  60’s just as professional careers evolved. In  response to greater appeal for affluent customers, the Treehouse was built in a narrow lot next to  the Wilson Building in 1969. Bernie managed  the store for 25 years. As in the generations before them, Don and  Bernie’s children were commonly seen at the  store. Son James, “Jim”, joined the business.  Involved in community affairs, Jim served as a celebrity waiter at a United Way fundraiser. The hostess was Lydia Pifer, reigning Miss Clarion  State College. Jim was smitten, and the couple married in 1981. At the turn of the century , Clarion presented a changing modern face to the world. Gone were the five-and-dime stores and many of the older family businesses. Often, sons and daughters did not care to take up the family trade. To  the Crooks family, it became apparent that retail clothing  sales had to change with the times.  Many of the same goods were now available everywhere  making serviceable work clothes and durable dress goods,  the family trade for decades, impractical to merchandise.  As old brands were made more accessible across the market,  quality was often compromised and original design was  scarce.Jim purchased the business in 1996, and  the building in 2000. Jim took his years of buying experience to the fashion  shows. Continually ahead of the game,  Jim brings new brands to our customers  ahead of the competition. Jim brought  only the highest quality and most fashion forward brands back. This is evident  throughout the store and new site.In 1998 the store took another leap. With the dawning of the world wide web, Jim’s oldest son Nathan saw opportunity. Nathan  started the store’s first website and online  store. Since that point F.L.Crooks has  continued its ventures in ecommerce. Now  as the internet playing field has changed  again, F.L. Crooks looked for a new  direction. We want to be your online  haberdashers - quality goods, style and, hometown service and commitment to excellence. So, enjoy the new face of  FLCROOKS.com.