It’s not easy being Greene School uniform supplier shuts its doors

The Greene Uniform Company, which was one of three school uniform suppliers for the Secaucus school district, has closed its doors. The company’s Hackensack factory, office building and central office have been listed for sale or lease, and Greene Uniform stores in Hackensack and Bayonne have been shuttered.

Flynn & O’Hara Uniforms, a Philadelphia-based uniform company, has agreed to purchase Greene’s customer base and three out of five of Greene’s retail outlets. Flynn & O’Hara has also hired approximately twelve of Greene’s former employees.

Bad timing for Secaucus

The Nov. 8 announcement from the 50-year-old Hackensack company, which employed approximately 100 people, came at an unfortunate time for Secaucus parents and students. The company was one of three uniform supply options designated by the Secaucus school board when they established a school uniform policy for the 2006-2007 academic year. The remaining two vendors are Uniformity, a uniform company based in Newark, and the on-line retailer Lands’ End.

Although the Secaucus uniform policy has been in place since Oct. 2, it has not been universally adhered to, in part because of the relative difficulty many parents have experienced in purchasing uniforms. Parents have specifically complained about long lines at Uniformity, claiming waits of hours and hours only to be told that certain uniform sizes had sold out.

The use of Uniformity as a school uniform vendor has proved highly controversial in the nearby Hudson County towns of Bayonne and Union City. In those towns, parents were originally forced to use only Uniformity. This restriction led to parents demanding more freedom of clothing choice, as well expressing exasperation that the company did not seem to be adequately prepared for the volume of uniform demand at the solitary school uniform source.

Secaucus believed that they had avoided this problem by providing the options of Lands’ End and Greene for parents. In an earlier interview, Huber Street School principal Fred Ponti noted that many other uniform companies considered “couldn’t meet our needs.”

“That’s why we went with the companies Uniformity, Greene Uniform Company, and the Lands’ End mail order company,” Ponti explained.

Some parents still peeved

With Greene now no longer a viable option, parents who are already less than pleased with Uniformity are also not so happy with Lands’ End. At a recent school board meeting, parent Patrice Arguelles voiced her concern that Lands’ End was simply too expensive for some Secaucus families.

“I’m sorry people, but I can’t afford Lands’ End,” she said.

Arguelles’ apprehension was reinforced by the comments of Cathy DeSciscio, another concerned Secaucus parent.

“I was going to get a couple of long sleeved shirts from Greene,” she said. “I don’t want to wait for Uniformity, who can’t supply them. And Lands’ End is back-ordered until January of February, and I’m disappointed in the quality of their products anyway.”

DeSciscio saw wider implications to the closing of Greene for her and for Secaucus.

“It’s an infringement on consumer’s rights,” she said. “It’s a violation of consumer protections that are guaranteed by the government. I think that it’s a travesty.”


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