Following in his father's footsteps Leggett's is way of life for Rosens


The name Rosen has always been associated with Leggett's department store in Westminster.

Not only was Carl C. Rosen Sr. the Virginia-based store's first local manager, but now his son, Carl C. Rosen Jr., is assistant manager of the Cranberry Mall anchor.

"I never dreamed he would go into retail," said the elder Mr. Rosen of his son, 44. "I guess it's because I never had anything to do with it. He came to it on his own."

Yet the younger Mr. Rosen might gently disagree with that statement. He said his father never pushed him, but like earlier generations of Rosens, retailing was a part of life.

The elder Mr. Rosen, 72, began his retailing career working for an uncle in Toledo, cutting meat, setting up the displays and taking inventories. Later, after managing a Leggett's in Stanton, Va., for nine years, he moved his family to Westminster in 1965 to open the chain's store here.

That fall, the younger Mr. Rosen began to work for Leggett's part time. "I was always in that environment," he said. "I remember going in and waxing floors at night. I may have wanted to do something else in town, but it was part of my duty."

Starting as a stock person, receiving the goods and delivering them to the different departments, the younger Mr. Rosen learned the business from the bottom up, as his father did.

"I learned all about our different merchants and vendors," he said. "It was a good way to learn things about every department."

The elder Mr. Rosen, who retired in 1985, said he remained in the background so it wouldn't look as though his son received preferential treatment. "He came in and was interviewed by someone else," he said. "My son never worked for me full time, and he was never promoted to a managerial position under me. That wouldn't have been right."

The younger Mr. Rosen said he decided to go into retailing when he graduated from the University of Baltimore with a degree in business management in 1972.

"I was always interested in clothing, even in high school," he said. "I was voted the 'Best Dressed' my senior year [1967]. Seeing my father's success in the store, I decided Leggett's was a company I wanted to go with, too."

He moved to Manassas, Va., with his new bride, the former Susan Grier, to begin Leggett's management training program.

"They met in the store, you know," the elder Mr. Rosen said of his son and daughter-in-law, who had worked in the sportswear department. "The rumor was that whenever I'd leave the store, they'd call each other on the telephone."

From there, the couple went to Roanoke, Va., where he managed men's, youth and shoe departments for the area's two stores, and she taught preschool. They returned to Westminster in 1991.

"There was a position available [at Leggett's] in Westminster and I told them I was interested," the younger Mr. Rosen said. "I was transferred here in June of that year."

Westminster has changed in the 20 years since he left, he said.

"It's become more metropolitan; there's more traffic and stoplights," he said. "But it's been like a homecoming. I've seen friends from high school and employees I worked with when I first started.

"And it's always a plus to have your family around you."

Time has yet to tell whether a third generation of Rosens will carry on the Leggett's legacy. Christopher Coleman Rosen, fondly called "C. C. III" by his grandfather, is 2.

"Whether he goes into retail, we'll have to wait and see," said his father.

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