Geiger Contributes to Lakewood
Virtually every resident in the city of Lakewood is familiar with the local shop called “Geiger’s.” But not everyone knows the man behind the store quite as well.
Mr. Charles Geiger III and his brother, Gordon Geiger, are partners in the store’s management. Geiger’s has been in business now for three generations.
In 1932, Charles Geiger senior started “Charlie Geiger’s Haberdashery” with his brother. The men’s furnishing store was located on the corner of Detroit and Warren, just a few storefronts from the present location. It was passed down to Charles Geiger II and his brother, and then to Charles III and his brother Gordon.
Growing up in Lakewood, Geiger always loved the city. He is an alumnus of Hayes, Madison, Harding, and Lakewood High School. Throughout junior high and high school, he worked for his dad at the store, but was never set on owning it one day. Geiger majored in business and economics at Wittenberg University and was interested in studying law. He took the law boards and could have gone on to be a lawyer, but got married instead in 1974, and made the decision to take over the family business and to keep his family in Lakewood.
Geiger and his wife Patti have three children - Elizabeth, 29; Charlie, 26; and Christy, 24. All three went to Lakewood schools as well. He says that his children are “involved in their own careers at this point” and does not know whether they will carry on the Geiger family business or not. For now, though, Geiger said, “I love this work enough and hope I can continue to work for quite some time.”
Since 1932, the store has, as Geiger says, “expanded to adapt to the changing market. We have reinvented ourselves.” Sporting goods has always been a significant element of this family business. It wasn’t until the early sixties that skiing became a popular sport and Geiger’s took full advantage of the expanding market.
When asked how he and his brother handle a day-to-day partnership, Geiger said, “we are very fortunate that we do get along.” The brothers “divide responsibilities” and have “no arguments.”
Geiger’s is not the only place in Lakewood where Mr. Geiger is seen regularly. On January 7 of this year, Charles Geiger III was named President of the Lakewood Board of Education for the fifth time since being a member. He describes the selection of President each year as a “gentleman’s agreement” that each member on the board gets his or her turn. “We are all equal people anyway. Why not share and allow everyone to have their turn?”
Geiger says the board’s “primary goal is the educational welfare of all students and families in Lakewood.” It hires and sets compensation for the Superintendent, Dr. David Estrop, and the treasurer, Richard Berdine. Geiger explains that although the Board displays great “passion for public education and community service,” it has to be careful not to “run the operation of the schools.”
Thoughts for the current renovating of Lakewood’s school system began with the Board of Education. In the late nineties, money was constantly being spent to fix old buildings, and the Board realized it might be a better investment to build rather than repair. “We needed help evaluating whether we should fix the buildings or build new ones,” says Geiger regarding the Board’s earlier decision-making process. The voters approved bond issues, and the plan formulated in 2000 and 2001 is now well on its way.
It is projects like this that Geiger helps along in his position on the Board of Education. It’s a “365 day job” and he has a passion for it. But he doesn't stop there - along with his position as President of the Lakewood Board of Education and co-owner of the family business, Mr. Geiger is also on the board of directors at First Federal of Lakewood, a trustee of the Lakewood Hospital Foundation, and board member of Lakewood Community Progress Inc, a non-profit support group for economic development. He describes his multiple services as “a good balance. If I just did one job, I’d get bored!” Geiger often goes above and beyond the call of duty as a citizen of Lakewood, but says he is “just a regular person trying to help the community.”