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."

4 comments

Charlottesville will become less conservative (more like Baltimore!) if the city gets control of parking downtown. If tradition is sought, then why doesn't CPC bring back the friendly practice of 2 hr. validation of parking tickets for downtown shoppers and diners?
When I served on the CPC board, for no pay, like Mr. O'Mansky did, when the Shoppe was at 118 W. Main, it was in the spirit of community service. Now, who is paying for the lofty salaries of these board members?
The customer is, of course! Yet, watch what happens if and when citizens allow the City to buy CPC...the currency paid to the gate keeper will no longer hold Mr. Jefferson's image; it will sport the mug of "Honest Abe."
What a taxing scenario... Best wished to Messrs. Marshall, Minor, Spencer, and other successful downtown proprietors. Yet heed this caveat: Do not let the City get more involved in our private business affairs...especially parking.

Parking,Parking,Parking,

When the city sold one of its last metered parking lots to a local law firm not to long ago,it continued the slide of down town business.

Why would anyone want to shop with the chalk police eyeing their vehicle when they can park for free all day in Barracks Road,Albemarle Square or Seminole Square.

Free parking trumps hard to find, time restricted, and expensive downtown parking? Who would have thought it. I believe you should apply for a grant. Or charge the city- nobody gives away this type of insight. Charge them $10k, they will talk about what a deal they got.

I'm glad to see someone agree that not all "change" is for the better. Change, while its own constant, is by nature not permanent.
Welcome back to Downtown. The "parking" spector is lerking at every empty space and anything "free" about TJs town is not related to his image on currency. Remember that the once proud former Pres. was financially reduced to begging legislators to bail him out of debt... finally selling/exchanging his library of precious books.
So, what does that have to do with downtown parking and the YMS?
Its all about money - not tradition or caring about your fellow man/person. I'm living proof that businesses are not democracies
and any employee who thinks so should be forced to attend the
OPEC/Exxon school "Supply & Demand - Lets' go to Vegas" and
the Enron/CountryWide seminar -
"How to Create False Demand to Trick the Supply Siders...
and falsely inflate housing assessments/taxes."

Good Luck YMS.