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Smith & James getting image update

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Tuesday, February 23, 2016

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Brandon Price will be overseeing the remodeling of Smith & James.
 

Jim Fair

Brandon Price will be overseeing the remodeling of Smith & James.

 



Enlarge photo

Brandon Price said he is looking to present the awe factor.
 

Jim Fair

Brandon Price said he is looking to present the awe factor.

 



Enlarge photo

Smith & James is one of three 100-year old business in Greer.
 

Jim Fair

Smith & James is one of three 100-year old business in Greer.

 



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A relic of a cash register will remain a centerpiece.
 

Jim Fair

A relic of a cash register will remain a centerpiece.

 



Smith & James is a little too cramped for Brandon Price’s style.

Price is overseeing a contemporary remodeling of the 100-year-old men’s clothier at 222 Trade Street. “I feel the store is a little cramped now,” Price said. “We’re going to make it look bigger than it appears, and the customers are going to visualize more of our clothing.”

Front to back Price, 42, said there will be more organization for sports wear and suits. “We’re totally changing the way we look,” Price said. “We will have new flooring and my dad (Bernard) is making new cabinets. We will have a new layout, but a lot of the stuff, including some memorabilia, will be gone. We’ve got to update for the 21st century.

“Just because you did it a certain way ten years ago and it worked doesn’t mean you can do it that way now. If you do you aren’t going to be here. That’s why I’ve got to update the image of my store,” said Price.

Price said he is looking to present the awe factor. “We will use some wrought iron, galvanized pipe and a lot of cool ways to display clothes. I wish I could put paper up on the windows and it read, ‘Coming in two weeks.’ Get the store all dolled up, open the doors and everything is ready.”

There’s the matter of serving the generations of customers Smith & James has dressed along the way. The store can’t afford to close for remodeling – as much for the customer as for the small family business.

Price said a sort of grand re-opening will be celebrated when everything is in place and the store’s façade is updated with a grant received from the city.

Smith & James has remained a classic men’s store through its origin and while competing with six other clothing stores in downtown Greer in the 1960s.

The store has survived a depression and several recessions in its history. “When the economy slows down people say ‘I bet the economy doesn’t affect your business.’ I say, ‘you’re crazy.’ Probably half of my customers own a business, and when they are not spending money on their business they are not spending money on ours.”

Smith & James is one of three 100-year-old businesses in Greer and the only centenarian retail business downtown. The Wood Mortuary opened in 1902 and Citizens Banking and Loan in 1907.

“I am going to out-service everybody,” Price said. “We’re a specialty store, and I got that from my dad who has done it for 55 years, starting in 1961.

Greer Mayor Rick Danner recognized Smith & James with the Mayor’s Award at the Small Business of the Year Celebration. “Smith & James has been downtown through thick and thin and has been the fabric of our community,” said Danner. “There’s no substitute for the service you get from Smith & James.”

Q: How did Smith & James survive the competitive ’60s versus the recessions along the way?

A: You have to have good loyal customers and our service had to be better than everyone else. I believe our store has a good name and good following. People know we’re down here.

Q: What do you think was the defining moment that ignited downtown’s value?

A: Gerard’s and Oyster Bay (restaurants) were the biggest risks to me and the biggest investment to come downtown. There was nothing else like them.

Q: What makes a classic men’s store tough to survive today?

A: Getting generation after generation in here . . . their father may have done a little shopping here. His son may come in and he wears his clothes a lot trimmer today, a lot trimmer, a lot sexier and not as big as say ten years ago. So now it’s getting that young guy to know we have evolved, too. We don’t carry that big baggy stuff like we used to. 

Q: Technology appears to have made it easier to recognize new age fashion faster but harder for the clothiers to keep pace as buyers.

A: The south, it was once said, was five to six years behind fashion. Without the Internet it would literally take five to seven years for a style to filter down from Italy, New York, Los Angeles and here. Now, something gets hot, it filters down pretty quickly and becomes mainstream. The Internet is our friend. I can do a lot of marketing on Facebook and Twitter.

Q: How do you buy one season ahead?

A: It’s nice to see it in the season you are buying. I just got back from a show where we could see the clothing we would be selling next winter. Forecasting is a lot easier. I know what I should have had this season and what I should have had more of. You’re always trying to take your customer forward, but you have to pick the right stuff to take them forward. There’s always something new to show. Keep it special and fun.”

 

 

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