Alan Dumain, who rose from a “white flower” Christmas helper at Bloomingdale’s to a senior executive at the store as well as at Saks Fifth Avenue and other retailers, died Thursday surrounded by his family at his home in Richmond Hill, Queens, after a long bout with multiple myeloma. He was 73.
His retail career started in 1972 when he joined Bloomingdale’s for the holiday season but he soon rose up the merchandising ladder, becoming an associate buyer for men’s hosiery, which he transformed from a mundane operation into a fashion business.
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He became a dress shirt buyer, a divisional merchandise manager for men’s wear, then manager of the King of Prussia, Pa., store, before shifting to Saks as a senior vice president over women’s.
He was also the first president of the Dana Buchman, returned to Saks as an executive vice president, and later held senior executive positions at Victoria’s Secret, the former Stern’s department store, and Northern Reflections in Canada, among other posts.
Ultimately, Dumain decided to go into business for himself and with his wife by purchasing two 7-Eleven franchises in Queens. As a franchisee, he settled public safety concerns of the school and church across the street from one of his 7-Eleven stores, which operate 24/7, regarding truck deliveries and people lingering in the parking lot at all hours. He took several measures. He installed cameras so he could monitor activity, shifted delivery hours of the 18-wheeler trucks to the middle of the night, met with community leaders and local police, and donated leftover food to charities. Because of his retail experience and skills managing stores, he became a close adviser to the 7-Eleven corporation.
“My father was always moving forward, thinking about the next step,” said his son, Ian. While ambitious, “He had an uncanny ability to turn what for other people would have been purely transactional relationships into real friendships. My father loved people.”
Dumain was also an impeccable dresser. “This was true all the time, from his days as an executive at Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. You could count on my dad to be the most-sharply dressed guy in the room, even in the business casual era. His shoes were never scuffed,” his son recalled.
“Alan Dumain was highly regarded in the retail world as a talented and successful merchant and manager. He was a very special friend to those who knew him and will be sorely missed by all,” said Mark Cohen, the director of retail studies, adjunct professor, at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.
“We first met as budding men’s dress shirt buyers, he at Bloomingdale’s, me at Abraham & Straus, then reconnected years later as fellow American executives working in Canada. Finally, as a frequent guest speaker at my retailing classes at the Columbia Business School, Alan magically connected the dots between his experiences in high-end apparel in his early career and his role as a purveyor of groceries and sundries as a 7-Eleven multistore franchise owner later in life.”
For many years, Dumain raised money for the Leukemia Society of America and was named the Man of the Year for the Leukemia Society of America’s New Jersey Chapter. He was a chairman of the Fashion Industry, Young Friends of the UJA-Federation. He was also an avid cyclist, and had season tickets for New York Giants football games for 60 years. In 2011, he got a certificate from the Giants inducting him into the season ticket holder hall of fame.
In addition to his son Ian, Dumain is survived by his wife, Phyllis; two daughters, Brooke Craemer and Ashley Reyes and their husbands; his brother, Sanford, and five grandchildren. The funeral service was held Friday at Temple Israel Center in White Plains, N.Y,
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