polo newport ri Greer menswear store still cuts a stylish figure after 100 years
It is the oldest retail store in Greer and third oldest business behind Citizens Building Loan and the Wood Mortuary funeral home, according to Brandon Price, the latest to run the family owned men clothing store.business is built on relationships, said Price, explaining how Smith James has survived two world wars, the Great Depression, several recessions and competition from big box retailers and malls. all about customer service going the extra mile. Price family held a celebration Thursday night at the store for longtime customers and friends. The store adjoins Chelsea Ladies Clothing Accessories at 224 Trade St., also run by the Price family.One of the store oldest customers, Ron Allison, said he started shopping there in the 1950s and ’60s.He said he still has many of the same outfits he bought 50 years ago.come back in style, said Allison, whose wife, state Rep. House of Representatives to Price and his father, the semi retired Bernard Price.clothes that you buy here are going to be around for a long time, Ron Allison said. honest. They do a good job, he said of the Prices.Rita Allison echoed the praise.you personally as a wife for taking care of my husband all these years, she said. is what it all about. store was known for carrying up to date Gent furnishings when it opened in 1916, the Greer Observer reported.In 1919, the name changed to Smith James when Vaughn sold his share of the store to Don James.From the 1930s through the 1970s, Paul Smith Sr., the founder nephew, continued to build on the store reputation of integrity and quality, according to Brand Price.Smith son Paul Smith Jr. and Bernard Price worked for Smith Sr. for many years before joining to buy the store.In 1991, Smith Jr. sold his share to Bernard Price, who along with son Brandon continued to run the store through today. Bernard Price recently retired.In 2005, the Prices opened a Greenville location on Woodruff Road, which expanded in 2011 and still operates today.At the Greer store, Brandon Price is assisted by Chip Bittner, Ted Lecren and other sales associates.The store has always sold suits, ties and accessories. And it continues to provide custom clothing and tailoring.But what really helped the business survive, according to Brandon Price, was the ability to change with the times.At one time, customers would buy three suits in a year. Today, they buy one every three years, he said.In the 1970s and 1980s, formal business attire was giving way to a more casual look, so the store adapted and began carrying a mix of formal, sports and casual wear.However, in the past couple years Price said he noticed that many businessmen want to go back to dressing more formally.up is becoming popular again, he said. are coming out, pulling out that old suit.”Paul Brown of Greer worked as a salesman for Smith James for 12 years, and is now a customer. He said the formula for the store longevity is simple customers, good quality items and attention to detail. And the employees know what they doing.many businesses do you know that have lasted 100 years, he said.Bernard Price said when he was hired in 1961 he had no idea that be bringing this business to 100 years.”has changed, he said. have changed. I appreciate you all. Most of all, I appreciate you as a friend. Price said he’s committed to continuing the family tradition.