The Clothing Company, open 362 days a year, is Charlevoix's only multi-generational clothing store! Family-owned and operated, we are known for our quality clothing, shoes, accessories, and unmatched customer service. We carry respected and current brands that suit the Up North lifestyle. Charlevoix's cornerstone store since 1975!
Anne Oosthuizen answered some questions about The Clothing Company so that we could learn more about this destination business in downtown Charlevoix.
What are three unique aspects of your business?
Everyone can find something at The Clothing Company! We have various price points, modern and traditional brands, shoes, accessories, outerwear, dresswear, etc.
We have been in business since 1975 and under the same family ownership. Soon we’ll be a third generation owned business!
Customer service and experience is the bottom line. We want every customer to feel welcomed, appreciated and supported while they shop with us.
What product in your business is different from others in town?
We carry some amazing brands like Patagonia, Kuhl, Tribal, Habitat, Royal Robbins, FX Fusion, Sperry, Chaco, ENO Hammocks, just to name a few. We are always trying to add more USA made and mission driven brands to our selling floor as well! A few of our lines offer trade-in or repair programs for worn or damaged clothing too. If you have any questions about this just ask us!
What service does your business provide that is different than most others?
Upstanding customer service! We are ready to help you find your perfect jeans, hiking shoes, raincoat… whatever it may be.
We have a seamstress on staff. They are available for hems, zipper repairs, and other mending projects. They really can take care of almost anything!
Gift-wrapping, on the house!
Generous return policies, especially around holiday gift-giving!
What is your experience and background?
I (Anne) come from a long line of retailers, so the seasonal buying and customer relationships feel very natural to me. My mother owns The Clothing Company and has since 1994, it previously belonged to my grandparents. My husband, Cole and I met at North Central College in Naperville, IL. My degree is in Graphic Design and his is in Jazz Studies.
Based on those details, it is easy to gather there was a bit of a learning curve when we moved back to Charlevoix in 2018 to work at The Clothing Company. We both worked in our respective fields for a few years after college, and pivoted when this opportunity arose. We often reflect back on our arts education, and how it has given us the tools to find fluidity and flexibility outside of our expertise. We never thought we’d be working in retail, but we are happy we are here!
What is something about your business that customers do not expect?
We do a lot of little things that may go unnoticed, but they add to the experience of shopping at The Clothing Company! We are welcoming of all people and pets, we make sure to greet you within seconds of your entrance. We always answer the phone and emails when we are open, and sometimes you may catch us after hours. We empty your arms as you shop, asking for your name and giving you ours too, then place your items neatly in a fitting room. Once you’ve found what you like, we meet at the checkout counter, and get to know each other a little more. We want to know if you’ve been in the store before? Or where you traveled from? Or maybe you are a regular customer and we ask you about your dog or travel plans? We really do value our customer relationships and love hearing your stories!
Do you have employees? If so, how many? Feel free to highlight some or share ways that you help make them feel valued.
We have 12-15 people working for us throughout the year! Many of them have been with us for a very long time. We do everything we can to make sure they feel valued, they really are the face of the business! The Clothing Company is a fun place to be, we work really hard but always make sure to keep things interesting. We’ve hosted staff meals, beach cleanups, quarterly meetings and even a staff shopping day! I think group activities outside of work are very important for the health of a crew, we don’t talk about stocking or sales goals
but more personal things, and we laugh! Other than meeting up, we offer competitive pay, seasonal bonuses, discounts, holiday gifts, 401K match, vacation pay, and flexible scheduling.
What is one of your favorite customer testimonials your business has received?
A couple of years ago a customer purchased a linen jumpsuit from us. Somehow a seam ripped and she was devastated! She emailed us asking if there was any way to order her another jumpsuit, and unfortunately the company had stopped making this particular style. We still wanted to go the extra mile, so we put our thinking caps on and suggested she mail us her holey jumpsuit, and our staff member Margie (quilter extraordinaire) would patch the hole. It wouldn’t look perfect but at least the customer would be able to wear her beloved jumpsuit. After mailing back the patched jumpsuit, we received a happy email from the customer. She was so excited about the repair and had amazing things to say about her experience. We really are willing to work with our customers to find a solution to situations like this, so don’t hesitate to give us a call!
Does your company have a personality and an attitude, and if so, how would you describe it?
I don’t quite know how to describe it but the building and business have a lot of history. I think customers new and old feel it when they walk in the store. The floors are worn down, the furniture has been moved by many human hands, there are hand painted signs, a photo of my grandparents (our founders) on the wall and the clothes are neatly placed. I think the atmosphere offers a sense of calm and familiarity that seems to be fleeting in this wild world. It feels like another home to a lot of people.
Why did you choose to own a business in downtown Charlevoix?
My grandparents chose Charlevoix when they moved here from Detroit in the 70’s. My Grandpa had the idea to move here after he visited the area for business. He pitched the idea to my Grandma, who is always up for an adventure, and they moved their 4 kids and pets up to Charlevoix. I think my grandparents saw a lot of potential in this area, to make a living, yes, but also to grow the community. Charlevoixians have got your back and I think that is my favorite part about having a business and living here. In addition, it is easy to get around by walking or biking, which of course adds to the charm. Who wouldn’t want to walk past a beautifully renovated library, monstrous oak trees and a vast body of water everyday on their way to work!
Has Charlevoix Main Street been valuable to your business?
Yes, I believe it has been helpful in some ways. It is nice to have social media exposure through The Downtown Charlevoix Facebook and Instagram. It is important to create a buzz in the winter, so a lot of our winter events are planned by Charlevoix Main Street. They provide ad campaign packages too, like this one, which are an effective way to reach audiences without business owners putting in
more time than they already do. Retail is truly a 24/7 job and it is nice to have assistance for marketing and advertising, one less thing for us to think about! Charlevoix Main Street also provides helpful grants to the community for things like technology upgrades, facade renovations, and other expensive store supplies.
Website URL: www.myclothingco.com
Facebook page: @theclothingcompanycharlevoix
Email newsletter?: Yes, sign up here! https://www.myclothingco.com/contact-us
Online ordering/shop?: No online store, but we do sell our gift certificates on our website for easy ordering for our far-away customers!