Harris overhauls Mary Jane’s, Chester’s
June 27, 2007
Men don’t shop as much.
"To sell their clothes, you have to sell them to women," said Lori Harris, owner of Mary Jane’s and Chester’s Blacksmith Shop.
For the last year and a half, her experiment with Chester’s Blacksmith didn’t work, so she changed it by revamping both stores at 613 Main.
"When I wanted to keep the men’s clothing and improve the business, I wanted to draw women in to buy for men," Harris added.
Chester’s, which used to be a male-only store, is now furnished with women’s clothes and targets young men and women ages 15 to 30.
"It’s been a lot busier, there’s more traffic upstairs," said Brittney Bell, a sales associate who has worked at the store for the last two years. "Men just don’t shop a lot, now couples are going together up there to shop."
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Rachel Metcalf, who has also worked there for two years, has seen similar trends since the stores were redesigned in May. She said Chester’s was "pretty dead" before.
"It has more customers," Metcalf said. "It’s busier because it has women’s as well as men’s items. We have mothers coming in here and buying stuff for their sons."
But the changes didn’t just benefit Chester’s.
"Overall, it’s been a good improvement in both stores," Harris said. "Our customers like the new setup."
Alterations at Mary Jane’s include moving all the clothes for a younger crowd up to Chester’s. Now it targets a specific demographic of women 25-55.
"We made a separation for our women customers; they say it makes more sense now. We feature a lot of designer clothing, it’s still fun and fashionable but more focused on one age group," Harris said. "We’ve made it contemporary. It now has more of a sophisticated slant."
Harris said mothers and daughters come into the store and the mom goes downstairs to Mary Jane’s and her daughter goes upstairs to Chester’s.
With the expansion, Harris brought more brands such as Izaak, Oh Deer! Footware, Modern Vintage, Freedom of Choice, Sophisticated Women and Corey Lynn Calter to Mary Jane’s. In Chester’s, she gathered brands like RVCA, Paul Frank, Goorin, Rocket Dog, Z-Brand, Volcom.
"We did a lot of analysis of what was doing well and fit the casual Park City lifestyle," Harris said.
Her business has evolved from what used to be solely a women’s shoe store three and a half years ago. At that time, the space Chester’s occupies was rented out to a different tenant.
The first year she made a profit and realized she could expand.
"I was just happy it was successful," Harris said. "After the first year, I was pleasantly surprised, I thought it would take four or five years to be successful, and I didn’t know how much I would like the business."
Gradually, she started selling women’s clothing to go along with the shoes.
"As I started to branch into clothing, we started talking about different ideas and branching out into urban men’s clothing," Harris said. "I had all sorts of ideas."
The spot above her opened and she and a partner opened Chester’s a little over a year ago.
"We were focused on casual wear in Chester’s that’s affordable, fun and fashionable," Harris said. "I picked up brands in the skate, surf and board fashion, basic T’s under $20 that are very affordable."
But, changes needed to be made. She bought out her partner, which enabled her to change both stores.
"It grew organically," Harris said. "It grew through Chester’s opening up and it’s based on what’s selling."
Since May 11, sales have increased in both stores.
"We’ve gotten great customer reaction, women are coming in really happy because of the fact they’re not confused with the merchandise," Harris said. "Girls and guys can shop together now. It’s for everybody but the kids 7-15 years old."
Shoes made the store successful, and now Harris expects the new addition to bring the stores to a new level.
"It was a good niche, the focus is still on shoes, but now we can do a whole outfit," Harris said.
Harris said there will likely be more changes in the future based on profits and sales. As she’s had more success, more clothing companies are willing to work with her.
"Now, I do have a plan and I want to expand. I’m looking into opening up a store in Salt Lake and other resort cities comparable to Park City," she said.
Mary Jane’s and Chester’s are located at 613 Main Street. Store hours are Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.