Bag & Baggage
Jim McKenzie has learned that if you love something and take care of it, it can last many lifetimes.
Bag & Baggage has been in McKenzie’s family for two generations now, though he said the business’s original owner, Sig Ettinger, was like a father to McKenzie’s own dad, Carmen.
Carmen started working as a stock boy at the shop when he was 18 years old. Ettinger took Carmen under his wing, taught him the business, and eventually sold it to him in 1978.
Growing up, McKenzie and his three siblings worked at the business, but McKenzie said he was the only one who wanted to make a career out of it. McKenzie remembers going in on Saturdays to sweep the warehouse and make gift bows. He worked at his father’s shop through college and later took over the business about 10 years ago.
Neither of McKenzie’s own kids are involved in the business, but his wife, Elizabeth, works there part time and his mother, Colette, helps with the bookkeeping.
McKenzie said Bag & Baggage’s secret for staying in business so long is that they only carry the best quality products.
“We stand by everything we sell,” he said.
He added that another big reason for the business’s longevity is their focus on good customer service by “treating your customer like family and going the extra mile for them.” Bag & Baggage also repairs damaged items, regardless of whether they were purchased at the shop or from someone else.
“I have a lot of customers who will come in and somebody will have their father’s briefcase that they want to use,” he said. “It has sentimental value, but it needs a little stitching, or it needs some conditioning and polishing. We can do that, and then they can use that bag.”
The pandemic has been “one of the toughest times” for the company because a lot of their business is related to people buying luggage for traveling or briefcases for going into the office, McKenzie said.
With people having to put travel plans on hold and many still working from home, McKenzie said Bags & Baggage has branched out to selling backpacks and other items as they adapt to what customers are buying right now.
In the future, McKenzie sees his business branching out into selling gear for hiking, bicycling and other outdoor activities.
But he said they will also continue selling quality leather backpacks, baggage, handbags, and wallets.
“Those are things that people always want and need,” he said.