By Rich Pollack
DELRAY BEACH — For 32 years, until he retired in 2017, Bruce Gimmy’s name was synonymous with the Trouser Shop, a unique business he ran on Atlantic Avenue that evolved with the times, yet never quite changed enough to lose its “old Delray” charm.
“He was a true downtown force,” said Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Laura Simon. “Although he was the owner of a teeny space, his impact on the community was huge. He was larger than life.”
Even as trends moved away from the flashy to the practical, Mr. Gimmy never surrendered the past and continued to offer slacks and shorts with bright prints, patches and plaids.
In a bit of a contrast, for many years the Trouser Shop was one of the few places in the area customers could find tailored tuxedos, with Mr. Gimmy often working the sewing machine.
A fixture in downtown fashion shows during Delray Fashion Week and during January Art and Jazz Fashion Nights before that, Mr. Gimmy was one of the most impressive models on the stage and one of the few men on the runway.
“He wore the craziest things he could find in the shop,” Simon said. “He loved it and he got the biggest applause.”
Often Mr. Gimmy would be accompanied at the fashion shows by his longtime customer and friend, Steve Miskew.
“I have such fond memories of our walking the runways of Delray Fashion Week — intercepting odd gazes in the wings from the ‘other models’ — and Bruce hamming it up at every turn,” Miskew said.
A character who never missed the chance to find the spotlight if it could benefit the Trouser Shop, Mr. Gimmy was also a serious business owner who was an early champion of Delray Beach’s small downtown businesses.
“He was there from the very beginning of the transformation of downtown Delray Beach in the early ’90s,” said Marjorie Ferrer, who held several downtown marketing leadership roles and was a driving force for its revitalization. “He was part of the dream team, dreaming about what downtown could be and did become.”
A member of the Downtown Development Authority board of directors and the city’s parking board for 25 years, Mr. Gimmy was a fierce advocate for local merchants and for making sure that congestion and parking problems didn’t hamper the downtown’s success.
“He was very passionate about the revitalization of downtown,” Simon said.
A champion for his 400 block of East Atlantic Avenue, Mr. Gimmy was a good neighbor to businesses nearby, welcoming them and offering support.
He was also a good neighbor in Ocean Ridge, where he and his wife, Joanne, had found a home in the 1980s that they lived in — while helping to raise two grandsons — until they sold and moved to Boynton Beach in 2021. “He was a nice person and an excellent neighbor,” said former neighbor Betty Bingham. “He was a character, but he was a good man.”
Bingham said that Mr. Gimmy wore many of his collection of slacks at home, not just in the store.
“I always enjoyed the different pants he wore,” she said. “I guess it was quasi-advertising for his store.”
Mr. Gimmy grew up in suburban Reading, Pennsylvania, and Stone Harbor, New Jersey, attended Michigan State University and held several jobs in the hospitality industry before coming to Florida and taking over the Trouser Shop from then-owner Nick Vitale.
Even though he had retired, Mr. Gimmy continued to own the property where the store sat and continued to support the community.
In a 2010 interview with The Coastal Star, Mr. Gimmy — who loved wordplay — said that one of his favorite phases was “press on.”
“He was a kind, colorful — pun intended — character,” Miskew said.
Private services were held last month.