The Story of The Three Sons

We've come a long way since the 1960s. From selling used furniture and Wrangler Jeans, to now housing over 40 top brands at our unique, flagship location. This is our story.

The Beginning

Three Young Men

In 1960, Matt Richter Sr. bought the former coal warehouse and Allis-Chalmers dealership for his sons Emil (20), Herman (16) and Jimmy (12) to build the business of their dreams. Without much of a business plan, the three budding entrepreneurs found that selling salvaged auto parts turned a small profit - so their storefront, 'Future Glass Block' began operation, selling furniture, tires, parts and shoes.

The Growth of the Clothier

The Foundation

The boys' first glimpse at clothier success came when they started selling second-hand socks (six pairs for a buck) to railroad workers. They soon progressed to selling pull-on Tingley overshoes and eventually, work slacks and Cedar Crest shoes from Ace Dry Goods in Sioux City. Finally, the brothers found their stride when they invested in 5,000 white canvas Army surplus ski jackets (blast jackets), loaded up the family's 1951 Dodge and sold them on high-traffic summer nights at 'The Grade', the parking area between East and West Lake Okoboji.

The Three Sons is Born


The Richters continued to grow their business with the conservatism that their parents, Matt & Mildred, had instilled in them, but also with a daring passion for continued success. As their niche as a clothier continued to develop, they christened their business 'The Three Sons' and were officially incorporated in 1969. Tragedy fell on Emil and Herman later that year, when their beloved brother Jimmy passed away. His spirit has always persevered, as the brothers continued to push forward in his honor.

Iowa's Most Famous University

Univ. of Okoboji

In 1971, Emil and Herman came up with the 'University of Okoboji' concept as a nod to their love for tennis, softball and other community competition. The fictitious university idea thrived and continues to adorn bumper stickers, sweatshirts and more as a symbol of Okoboji pride locally and throughout the entire country.

The Store and Richter Family Grows

The Expansion

The growth of the store's success would not have been possible without the Richter family's growing involvement. Emil and Herman's older sister, Georgia, joined in on the upper management of the store, and the business became a complete family affair when Emil's wife, Sue, and Herman's spouse, Paula, joined the crew. As the store's popularity and inventory grew, a large addition was constructed on the West side of the building in 1974.

The Three Sons Today

Today, The Three Sons is a second generation family run store. Herman, with his unmistakable “thumbs up” remains to be active in the store, while Emil continues to hold the title of "Head Cheerleader Scout for the U of O". Herman's wife, Paula, and sons Matt and Mark, proudly work full-time in the family business, while Emil and Sue's son, Brian, alongside wife, Ashley, have taken on major roles in store operations and buying. The Three Sons is a dream brought to life by family, and proudly remains in the hands of the Richter family today. Thanks for being a part of it.