Custom Finds Buyer

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The Custom, formerly a retail chain of custom shirts and suits, has found a buyer for its trade name, customer records and Web site,

Michael Smith, an entrepreneur in Toledo, OH, paid $379,000 for the assets in a Houston court auction that presided over Custom Shop's Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings.

"Smith got a wonderful deal. If he can preserve the customer list, it will be a great investment," Rodney Tow, a trustee in the case, said yesterday.

Founded in 1937, Custom Shop, Houston, at its zenith had 52 stores nationwide and an online store. The previous owners declared bankruptcy in March.

"The last two owners were misdirected and under-funded," Smith said.

In the tailored men's apparel line since 1984, Smith earlier had bought three Custom Shop stores in San Francisco, Houston and Washington. The chain also has two stores in Detroit and a third in the suburb of Birmingham, a Smith-owned store since 1999. A Custom Shop plant in Franklin, NJ, is still active.

Smith said that he is confident of regaining Custom Shop customers.

"We still have all their measurements," he said, adding that he would apply the same standards of service expected of Custom Shop.

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