LONG HISTORY IN LEATHER
1899: Berman Brothers Fur, Wool and Hides is founded by brothers David, Ephraim and Alexander Berman.
Late 1920s: David Berman's son, Nathan, takes over management.
1946: Wearing fur is unpopular after World War II, and the store is reinvented as Berman Buckskin, with fringed deerskin jackets and Indian motifs marketed to tourists.
1967: Berman Brothers Fur Co. downsizes its wholesale trade, shifting to a retail operation.
1972: The Bermans expand into leather specialty shops, including hotels and shopping malls. Within four years there are 19 Berman Buckskin stores in four states.
1979: W.R. Grace & Co. acquires Berman Brothers. Lyle Berman (grandson of David, son of Nathan) becomes president.
1987: Lyle Berman takes the company private in a $99.3 million leveraged buyout.
1988: The 163-store chain is sold to CVS New York Inc., (previously Melville Corp.) for $220 million. Melville merges Berman with its Wilsons House of Suede, forming Wilsons the Leather Experts Inc., the name that exists today.
1992: Wilsons the Leather Experts buys Snyder Leather.
1993: Wilsons acquires Georgetown Leather Design. With 631 stores under its umbrella, sales hit $600 million.
1996: Lyle Berman and Wilsons management take the company private for the second time, for $67.8 million.
1997: Wilsons goes public.
2001: Wilsons buys privately held Bentley's Luggage Corp., which sells travel products at 106 stores, for an undisclosed sum as part of a plan to reach $1 billion in sales.
2002: The travel stores lose $26.4 million in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, and Wilsons closes 135 outlets.
2004: Wilsons shuts 111 underperforming stores and cuts 950 jobs. In April, Peninsula Investment Partners of Charlottesville, Va., and two affiliates of Quaker Capital Management of Pittsburgh invest $35 million for 17.9 million shares of stock.
2005: In April, Lyle Berman resigns from the board of directors, the last tie to a business begun by his grandfather.
2007: In June, Wilsons gets another infusion from private equity investors. This time, it's for a total of $45 million.Sources: Star Tribune archives, Lyle Berman, SEC filings, referenceforbusiness.com