The Andrew Thompson Story
In his 52nd year Andrew Thompson was faced with the prospect of soon becoming a senior citizen without having really made much of his life. Born and raised in Westchester County, New York, the son of Peter R. Thompson, III who was the founder of Thompson & Son, Investment Securities, the well known Wall Street firm that had started four of the six largest conglomerates produced in the American business community since the second World War. Andrew's brother, Peter IV, was now head of the family firm and Andrew often wondered if he had been wrong to turn his back on the family ties that could have made a comfortable life for him.
Andrew had been educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, and had gone to Princeton University where in his junior year he was captain of the golf team and in his senior year a member of the US Walker Cup Team, as well as the NCAA Individual Golf Champion. After a couple of years in the family firm Andrew had gone to the Harvard Business School where he was a Baker Scholar. Shortly after leaving the business school the Korean War broke out and Andrew enlisted in the Marine Air Corps where he distinguished himself in 38 missions over North Korea, twice narrowly escaping death when ground fire destroyed two planes he was piloting.
After the war he returned to Westchester County disappointed at having to give up the thought of being a professional golfer due to injuries to his left arm and hand sustained in the war, and determined not to go back into the family business because it didn't offer him the challenge he needed. A large trust fund established by his father allowed Andrew the luxury of not having to work and he spent several months evaluating various business alternatives and pursuing the lovely Sarah Goodkin, the second ranked US Amateur Women's Tennis Player. Sarah, from Chattanooga, Tennessee, captured Andrew in 1958 and in return for giving up her worldwide tennis activities persuaded him to return with her to Chattanooga where he would help manage the family investments. The Goodkin family had been among the founders of a well known soft drink company and their substancial assets and philanthropic activities required the full time services of the urbane, witty, and conscientious Andrew.
But after many years of what most men would consider a successful career Andrew was anxious. His life had little meaning and he felt he should use the assets at his command to produce something lasting, to make the world a better place, to start and achieve something of which he could be proud. For sometime an idea had been gnawing at the back of his mind.
Andrew had always been exposed to the finer things in life and had never strayed far, in his tastes, from the traditional and classic. His activities were centered around his travels, his clubs, his art collection, and while he and Sarah were unable to participate actively, their keen interests were golf and tennis.
Andrew often wondered why the good things which he enjoyed couldn't be made more easily available to others. He was impressed with the clothing sold by Brooks Brothers, L.L. Bean, Talbots, and other shops that catered to the Andrew Thompsons of the world, and wondered why they were so few and far between. He thought that perhaps there was a place for a shop of that caliber in every city and it bothered him that there was none in Chattanooga.
As the idea began to grow on him Andrew realized that his purpose in life could be fulfilled by creating, in malls, shops that catered to the needs of those people who wanted to enjoy the finer things in life, and that such a shop could be built around the very things which Andrew and Sarah had looked to for happiness -- travel, fine clothes, golf and tennis.
So, he built a store -- called it Andrew Thompson Company -- stocked it with luggage, traditional men's and women's sportswear, with a niche for fine golf equipment and another for fine tennis equipment. The store's purpose was to stroke the frustrated egos of every shopper who ever wanted to indulge himself or herself by taking a trip, wearing some fine casual attire or playing one of those country club sports, golf or tennis.
The merchandise wasn't high priced, in fact it was sold at moderate prices that attracted a stream of customers from the masses who frequented the mall. The store had a touch of exclusivity, a heavy dose of masculine, pro shop appeal and a line of products which reeked of the classic, the traditional. A shop with quality merchandise, sold and serviced with integrity.
The store flourished for several years and became well known in the Chattanooga area not only for its wonderful selection of product but also for its original ads which appeared in the local newspapers. In fact many of the customers told Andrew and Sarah they looked forward to just reading the advertising because it was so "creative and entertaining".
One evening Andrew and Sarah were sitting in their favorite room along with their dogs, Amos and Ben, two Black Labrador Retrievers. They were chatting about the store and its future direction. The idea of expanding to many locations was not as much of interest to them as it had been at one time so they began considering other alternatives. Since their customers frequently commented on how much they enjoyed the uniqueness of the product in the store and the creative, entertaining advertising the thought came to them that the way to expand the Andrew Thompson Company concept was to go into the mail order business.
Andrew and Sarah counted among their many friends a famous American tennis player, a real gentleman, and a past US Open and Wimbledon men's singles champion. Although most of his major victories were in the 1950's, he was still very much in the public eye because of his annual commentary during the US Open for one of the major networks.
After some discussion with their friend Andrew and Sarah decided to market an all graphite tennis racket through the mail, advertised in the major tennis magazines, endorsed by their friend. With Tony's credibility in the tennis world and Andrew's knack for writing ads the idea was a natural for Andrew Thompson Company's introduction into the mail order business. The idea turned into reality and thus began the Andrew Thompson Company mail order business.
Next they put together a successful mail order program for an international waterfowl organization. The program was so successful that many of their mail order customers wanted the same products with their company's name embroidered beneath the "true to life" wildlife embroideries, such as the mallard. The mail order business created the demand for the corporate identification business.
Since 1979 the Andrew Thompson Company has continued to develop and market unique, high quality lifestyle products while offering the best service available.