Many years before I came to work at the Advocate, I spent a couple of years working in retail. I was (wo)manning the accessories counter at Nordstrom when the charming Jerri Helfman, wife of Ken, as in Preston Hollow fixture Ken’s Man Shop, poached me, and I went to work for the finest haberdasher in town. The day I watched Ken Helfman, a longtime Lake Highlands resident, sell a full-length cashmere trench coat to the mayor of Dallas in August was the day I knew I was in the presence of a master.
Today the younger Helfman, Kory, an East Dallas resident and dad, is running things. Even in the y2k era, Kory was ahead of the game when it came to technology, scribbling notes on his Palm Pilot and maintaining a detailed digital client list. So it’s no surprise Kory’s TikTok game is on point. If you care to learn about the relationship of sleeve length to jacket, pocket squares and denim care, while having a little fun, follow there or at Ken’s Man’s Shop on IG.
Ken opened Ken’s Man Shop on July 29, 1964 near the field where Dallas Cowboys practiced on Forest Lane near Skillman.
“Lee Roy Jordon became a customer. Many of the other Cowboys followed. We used to do the Ken’s Big Play Award at Cowboys games, where the player of the game won a suit or sport coat of his choice. That association with the Cowboys ignited a lot of good things,” Ken told us during a Q&A some years ago. They moved to Preston Hollow in 1993.
Recently a Ken’s Man Shop collection became available on the Portal to Texas History, a digital museum maintained by the University of North Texas Libraries.
The collection includes photographs of the store and its owners and past employees (not me), advertisements, letters from vendors including tie-maker Ferrell Reed. It also nicely illustrates the evolution of men’s fashion through the years of Ken’s life.
Though his father and brother were doctors, Ken said he discovered his love for retail and people while working a shoe salesman job in Casa Linda’s Persian Peyton’s. I for one am glad he did.