Herbert I. Reamer, former owner and president of Reamer’s, a chain of Baltimore clothing stores that kept men and women well-dressed for decades, died May 10 from Parkinson’s disease at his Roland Park Place home. The former Cross Keys resident was 85.
“He had a good eye for fashion and trends that were developing,” said a son, Alex Reamer of New York City. “He just had a great eye for clothes and was definitely ahead of his time.”
Herbert Irwin Reamer, the son of Gustav Reamer, a merchant, and Shirley Hendler Reamer, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and spent his early years in Whiteford, Harford County, where his father owned and operated a general store.
He moved with his family to Baltimore and in 1944, his father purchased Snyder’s Men Shop in the 5100 block of Park Heights Ave. in Pimlico, which in 1947 became Reamer’s Apparel Shop. In addition to men’s fashions, it sold women’s and children’s clothing.
A 1951 graduate of City College, Mr. Reamer began his college studies at the University of Baltimore, but after a year his father died, so he left college and went to work in the family business.
Mr. Reamer expanded the business and in addition to the original Pimlico location, had stores in the Woodholme Center, Greenspring Shopping Center in Pikesville, Towson Plaza Mall, later Towsontown Centre, and on Charles Street as part of the Charles Plaza complex.
“He opened Reamer’s for Her in Bethesda in 1986,” his son said, which sold high-fashion clothing and accessories for women.
He opened a similar women’s blue jeans store by the same name the next year in the Greenspring Shopping Center, which had previously sold men’s clothes.
Mr. Reamer was an innovative merchandiser.
“He was the first to bring the Armani and Hugo Boss lines to Baltimore in the 1980s,” his son said.
In 1986, Mr. Reamer embraced a telephone-computer setup that allowed for the mass production of custom-ordered clothing, and was the only Baltimore-Washington retailer to do so.
“Herbert I. Reamer, president of Reamer’s Inc., is one of many U.S. retailers hoping this computer-based manufacturing process will give his menswear stores in the Towsontown Centre and Greenspring Shopping Center an edge over merchants selling off-the-rack clothes and the few area tailors who still turn out made-to-order clothes,” The Sun reported.
“We want to give the customer a reason to come to us,” he told the newspaper.
Mr. Reamer, who by nature was an outgoing and friendly man, could also be persuasive.
“People would come into the store looking for nothing and then he’d sell them something,” his son said, with a laugh.
In 1990, Mr. Reamer closed the Greenspring Shopping Center store, which was followed in early 1991 by the Charles Street location, which left only one shop at the Woodholme Center, which closed at the end of 1991.
The Towsontown Center store had closed in 1988 and the original Pimlico location was shuttered in 1966.
Mr. Reamer blamed the closings on the recession.
In November 1991, when his last store, Reamer’s Men’s Mart in Woodholme Center, closed, he told The Sun that “Reamer’s Men’s Mart was created to adjust to some tougher times, and the times were too tough.”
He added: “You can say we’re looking forward to better times. This is part of life, and you must go on.”
His son said he is still stopped by people who remember Reamer’s fondly even after nearly three decades since the last store closed its doors.
“People still come up to me and tell me they bought their first suit there or their had parents purchased their bar mitzvah suit at Reamer’s,” his son said.
His daughter-in-law, Anne N. Reamer of New York City, said in an email that her father-in-law had a “magical touch, infectious kind of smile, genuine interest and knowing his audience and connecting people for mutual benefit and for enhancing relationships and lives.”
He was an Orioles, Baltimore Colts and Ravens fan, and had attended the historic 1958 NFL championship game at Yankee Stadium between the Colts and the New York Giants that went into sudden-death overtime.
Mr. Reamer enjoyed playing tennis, was a member of the Suburban Club, and liked vacationing in Ocean City.
He had been a member of Har Sinai Congregation and attended services at Beth El Congregation.
Funeral services were held May 13 at Sol Levinson & Bros. in Pikesville.
In addition to his son, Mr. Reamer is survived by another son, David Reamer of New York City; three grandchildren; and special friend Rona Schulz of Pikesville. His marriage to the former Libby Rappaport ended in divorce.