Too young? YMS Clothiers steps in

For generations, Charlottesville men have headed to the Young Men's Shop for their conservative suits and Oxford shirts. It was even mentioned on an episode or two of The Waltons.

The store's traditional fashions haven't changed, but the name has. In a moniker that bears resemblance to Yves St. Laurent's abbreviation, the name is now YMS Clothiers Ltd. So what gives?

The 77-year-old Charlottesville institution has become a casualty of growth. A lot of people new to the community think it's a boy's clothing store, says owner Harry Marshall, who notes, "We're exactly the opposite."

In another break with tradition, the shop formerly known as Young Men's has turned over 1,800 square feet of space to women's fashion retailer the Parrot, which opened there in March. That pairing, according to Marshall, is going great.

The store, which moved from downtown in 1997, has a new sign at its Zan Road location. Marshall has run a few ads about the name change, and sent out 3,000 post cards notifying customers, but he says it's too early to tell if the renaming has had an impact on business– or on old customers.

"It's the only place I shop," says bowtie-wearing Jim Camblos, Albemarle commonweath's attorney. He declares himself "not a clothes horse" and estimates he's been shopping at the Young Men's Shop for 30 years.

Camblos is not bothered by the name change. "The only thing that would turn me off is if they didn't carry extra long," he says. "They're the only ones who carry my goofy size."

Longtime customers like Camblos were never confused by a name that implies the store's clientele is much, much younger than it really is, "I never thought of that," says Camblos. "It gets to be like an old shoe."

Marshall is upbeat about the future of YMS Clothiers Ltd. "I think it's going to be a good transition," he says.

And any YMS Clothier fashion tips for summer? "Bright colors are in," advises Marshall.

Young Men's Shop no more: Charlottesville institution bows to growth.