Iconic haberdashery returns downtown
The Young Men's Shop, formerly YMS Clothiers Ltd. (and even more formerly the Young Men's Shop), has quietly returned to its former stomping grounds, the Downtown Mall.
A venerable gentleman's emporium, the Young Men's Shop–- and owner Harry Marshall (pictured at left)–- have moved into a building most recently housing the Mole Hole in an attempt to woo a larger customer base and revive slumping sales that resulted from the shop's move to Seminole Square shopping center over ten years ago.
"Most people felt we shouldn't have changed the name and shouldn't have left the Downtown Mall– I disagree," Marshall says. "We left when we should have, but maybe we should have moved back sooner. We're just glad to be back."
The Young Men's Shop has been a Charlottesville staple for nearly 80 years. When it opened on Main Street (now the Downtown Mall) in 1927, the shop catered to a clientele of local gentry, but as the years passed, the growing customer roster called for a larger space– hence the 1997 move to the Seminole Square location.
"We moved from the Downtown Mall because it couldn't sustain the volume we were doing," Marshall says. "Then one year ago, we decided to move back downtown because we didn't need that extra space anymore."
The shop's prime location on the Downtown Mall has been a key to attracting Charlottesville's businessmen, tourists, and University students. The revamped store has a cozy, handcrafted feel, with every available space housing neat rows of multi-colored, heavily patterned ties, old-school suspenders and bow ties, and a wide range of seersucker suits. In an attempt to attract a younger crowd of up-and-coming gents, Vineyard Vines and Lacoste shirts are scattered near the front. The store's 2004 name change was another prime example of the small company's efforts to draw in younger generations.
"We originally changed it because people would come in thinking 'Young Men' meant little boys," Marshall says. "But last summer, the Daily Progress had their Reader's Choice awards, and the 'Young Men's Shop' won –- not YMS Clothiers. The move was the perfect time to go back to the original name."
In a town where growth and development have become catchwords for economic success, the long-standing Young Men's Shop indicates a return to tradition.
"Charlottesville's core hasn't changed much," Marshall says. "Charlottesville is still a small, conservative, traditional town."