Smith & James remodels for the future of menswear

In March, [Smith & James] manager Brandon Price decided it was time to upgrade his father’s 2,500-square-foot clothing store. It hadn’t changed since opening in 1916.

“It’s about evolving and bringing in a younger crowd. But it’s also about retaining our unique approach to menswear,” Price said.

While the store’s exterior sits untouched, the inside reflects a new business model. However, evolving for the modern age required three months of hard labor.

The store’s carpet was replaced with hardwoods; fresh gray paint appeared on the walls; clothing cabinets replaced the crowded floor stands; and antique iron rails were installed to hold countless amounts of apparel.

Remodeling also brought a change in layout. The store’s selection of ties, bow ties, coats, trousers and custom clothing were moved to the back of the store. And cabinets and racks filled with sportswear sit at the front as well as a new fitting room.

“The world isn’t as formal anymore. That’s the kind of change we’re going through,” said Price. “The biggest change in this industry is the tailoring.”

Behind the scenes is Chip Bittner, the tailor extraordinaire who joined the team in 2000.

“Suits are our lifeblood. If you can’t touch it and feel it in the store, I’ll come to you and tailor a modern fit in fifteen minutes. That’s why we’re the total package,” Bittner said.

The ever-changing world of fashion has never deterred the old-school store from its passion: one-of-a-kind brands that are mostly American-made. The store has garnered a diverse inventory that includes Barbour apparel, Allen Edmonds dress shoes and more.

The store’s freshly painted, modern presentation melded with its selection of custom fit, American-made apparel is being noticed by customers and business leaders.

“I bought my first suit from there when I turned 10 years old,” said Greer lawyer Ronnie Bruce. “The Price family took men’s clothing to a new level. But I love the way they’ve renovated. It broke the monotony of the store.”

“Downtown Greer prides itself on its sense of history and community while also being exciting and vibrant, and the Smith & James remodel encapsulates this spirit,” said Kyle Mensing, commercial development director for the Greer Development Corporation.

While the store has caught up with the modern age, it hasn’t forgotten its roots. Many of its antique furniture pieces, such as a handmade tie cabinet, have remained.

The store’s history is embedded in those remaining pieces of furniture.