Style came naturally and early to David Hodgkins, founder of David Wood Clothiers in Portland, who this month retired after launching the upscale menswear shop 45 years ago.
His mother was an interior designer and often brought him to fabric stores in New York City. That education in textiles got him interested in his own clothes. He remembers the day she brought home an assortment of new items for him to try on; he rejected them all. Then she handed him money.
“She said, get on the bus and buy what you want,” he said.
Decades later, Hodgkins has turned over similar decision-making at David Wood. Sara Hutchison Brown, who has worked with him since 2017, now owns and operates the business.
Hodgkins leaves a deep impact, both aesthetic and economic. As he developed relationships with brands all over the world – from a shoemaker in Massachusetts to an Irish maker of small-batch knitwear – the haberdashery helped make the Old Port a shopping destination.
His friends joke that his favorite thing about the business has been that he can buy his own clothes at wholesale prices. But Hodgkins said the people are what he will miss the most.
“What I like about the business most is the personal relationships that you develop with your customers and your business,” he said. “It’s a very social business on both sides.”
Hodgkins grew up in New Jersey, but his father was from a farm near Litchfield. The family visited every year, and Hodgkins knew he wanted to live in Maine. He attended the University of Maine “and married a Portland girl,” he said. He spent three years in the U.S. Army after