Saturday, November 23, 2013

When Britania Ruled: Bombay Britches Gurkha Shorts.

Remember the Gurkhas?  Fierce indigenous fighters on the side of the Brits, protecting the Khyber Pass and a great deal of the Queen's Empire in Ceylon, In-ja, Madagascar, Malaysia, Burma, and far-flung islands throughout the East.   The Gurkha's were special, and so were their uniform shorts back in the day.

Years ago I found hundreds of pairs of "Gurkha Shorts" in a surplus store on Canal Street in lower Manhattan. Shorts were, brand new, in pristine shape -- bundled and baled, wrapped in water-resistant paper with burlap overlay, for sale at $2.00 per pair.  The shop owner gave me access to the attic, and I climbed over the bales to my heart's content: taking in the aroma of an era now gone, and imagining the battles and dominions these uniform shorts might have seen.

Not only did I acquire bales and bales of the olive drab shorts -- made of the highest quality Egyptian cotton, big, wide waist band, deep front pockets, pleated and blousey and roomy around the thighs --  but the shorts came in khaki and white as well.  Each branch of the British Military in the Far East seemed to have its own style and color.

In time I sold hundreds of pairs of Bombay Britches.   Advertising in the classifieds of magazines like Rolling Stone,  I priced the shorts at $17.95/pair, built awareness, and sold a ton of product.  My money back guarantee and personal thanks-for-the-business note seemed to produce repeat sales far beyond my expectations.

My shorts ran out just as retailers like Banana Republic began to sell their own version of MY Bombay Britches !! It was a helluva run and a lot of fun while it lasted. Thanks to any former customers who might be reading this blog, and to R. Scott Samuel of Southern Pines, NC, who designed my ads and promotion material.

PS - Thanks to my brother Joe Hoyt of Miami, FL, who found the old Bombay card in his attic, and reminded all of us what the glory days of short pants were really like!

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