Charlevoix Harbor Wear has been family owned and operated since 1985 providing quality, colorful, nostalgic tee-shirts and sweatshirts for the whole family. Home of the original stacked, “sailboat” sweatshirt, people travel from near and far to purchase this iconic design every year. Commemorate your time in Charlevoix by visiting Northern Michigan’s oldest, family-run, tee-shirt business, Charlevoix Wear. They have sizes and styles for everyone!
Jill Dipert of Charlevoix Wear, answered some questions so that we could learn more about this destination business in downtown Charlevoix.
What are three unique aspects of your business that are unlike any competitor?
We have sizes and styles for the whole family! We range anywhere from 6 months up to 3X. We also carry an original design that we proudly call our “annual stacked."
What product in your business is different from competitors?
We carry well known brands such as Champion, Life is Good, and Gear. We like to invest in quality brands.
What service does your business provide that is different from most others?
We provide “over the phone” ordering where you call the store and we ship it to you. Currently, we don’t have a way for customers to purchase online, but we are working towards that!
What is your experience and background?
I (Jill) come from a family full of dedicated merchants and retailers. I started working I for The Clothing Company way back when I was twelve years old sorting hangers in the stock room. I worked within the stores until I graduated high school. Once I graduated high school, I attended Aquinas College in Grand Rapids to study Sustainable Business and Spanish. I was presented with a position from my father, Kirby Dipert, to manage Charlevoix Wear. So, I came home and here I am almost six years later.
What is something about your business that customers do not expect?
We do a range of things that sometimes go without recognition. One big thing we do often is that if a customer calls us and is unable to make to trip to our beautiful little town, we can take their phone numbers and send them photos, or it isn’t uncommon for us to do a Face-time call either. We also welcome all people, and of course your four-legged friends as well!
Do you have employees? If so, share ways that help make them feel valued.
We do have employees! In the busy summer season, we have a total of about 10. Both full-time and part-time. In the slower seasons like early Spring and Fall, we have about 4. Our employees are very loyal to us and tend to come back for the season year after year. One way that we give credit to our staff is by offering flexible schedules. We are very easy going with working around their lives outside of work and requests for time off. They all work very hard when need be, but we also like to have a little fun. There are a few each season that keep us on our toes!
What is one of your favorite customer testimonials your business has received?
We have received many throughout the years and I cannot think of a specific example but one thing that does not go unrecognized from my Dad (Kirby) and I, our regular customers who come back year after year. We’ve watched their families grow, and loyalty for the business grow especially as I prepare to take over, which we are so grateful for!
Does your company have a personality and an attitude, and if so, how would you describe it?
I would say it does. Our motto that we try to model the business after is “nautical tradition." We are lucky to have built this business in such a beautiful area that has spread to many other small, quaint towns in Michigan, and even other states! I may be a bit biased, but managing such a nostalgic business under the wing of my Dad, Kirby Dipert, has been a true experience all on its own. I think that adds to the feel of “mom and pop shop” or in this case, father and daughter.
Does your business participate in any partnerships or with any other local businesses?
We like to support local organizations and events in our community. While we are a little more silent about our involvement, we take pride in knowing how appreciated we are. One thing is that we always donate to the Venetian Festival. Another organization that we enjoy giving back to is the Community Christmas Foundation. With that, we often donate a lot of our ‘leftover’ product at the end of the season.
Why did you choose to own a business in downtown Charlevoix?
My grandparents are the ones we truly owe the credit to in choosing to run a business in downtown Charlevoix. It all began when my Grandfather, Jim Mabee, chose to relocate his entire family from the metro Detroit area to beautiful Northern Michigan. Since then, it has been passed down to my parents, Jacqueline, and Kirby Dipert, and next, me. I am passionate about carrying on the family legacy and providing Charlevoix with the same quality experience for years to come.
How has Charlevoix Main Street been valuable to your business?
Charlevoix Main Street has been valuable to us because it keeps our town so lively. Especially in the shoulder seasons. Main street always makes sure to create events that will bring business to our downtown businesses.