published Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Third-generation Chattanooga clothing store retools for young shoppers

Oscar Buchanan, a sales manager at Giorgio Men's Warehouse, arranges suits on mannequins in the glass case in front of the shop on Market Street in Chattanooga. Buchanan has worked at Giorgio for 30 years and also has a side job coordinating outfits for pastors and professional athletes.
Oscar Buchanan, a sales manager at Giorgio Men's Warehouse, arranges suits on mannequins in the glass case in front of the shop on Market Street in Chattanooga. Buchanan has worked at Giorgio for 30 years and also has a side job coordinating outfits for pastors and professional athletes.
Photo by Erin O. Smith.

DeMarcus Boyce strolls into the downtown shop and is greeted by name. Then an employee who's worked at the shop for 33 years waits on him, standing on a step ladder to reach the top shelves. He pulls down suits and shoes and hands them to Boyce one by one.

It sounds like a scene from a rosy bygone era, but it's not. Boyce was shopping at Giorgio Men's Warehouse, a three-generation, family-owned clothing shop at 704 Market St. in Chattanooga.

Boyce has never purchased a suit anywhere else.

He represents a victory for the downtown shop -- not just because he's a loyal, eight-year customer, but also because he's a young customer -- only 26 years old.

"We're trying to introduce ourselves to a new generation," said Pierre Dabit, the third generation of Dabits to run Giorgio. "We don't want to get away from who we used to be, because we're proud of who we are and we've built this brand since 1975. We're just trying to update it."

The Dabits sell clothing for men of all ages, said Pierre's mother and co-manager, Sana Dabit. In the early days, the shop focused on high fashion, but these days the Dabits sell a wide range of merchandise -- including about 3,500 suits -- some starting as low as $99.

"We can basically dress a man from head to toe," she said.

Over the years, the Dabits watched as downtown went from the center of retail to no-man's land. Now that the idea of downtown shopping is becoming popular again, they're reinventing the shop to appeal to the modern downtown shopper.

They're focused on building customer relationships and giving guests a unique shopping experience. They've updated displays, remodeled the interior, added new lighting and new styles. They've expanded into the formal wear scene by both selling and renting tuxedos. So far, it's working, Pierre said.

"We're getting a lot of new customers, especially since we reorganized and remodeled," the UTC graduate said. "We get people coming in and saying, 'I didn't know you carried this.'"

It helps, too, that young professionals are starting to rediscover the value of a nice suit, Pierre added.

"The younger generation is taking more pride in their appearance," he said.

He hopes the synergy of the remodel, varied merchandise and customer service will keep Giorgio Men's Warehouse in business for a fourth generation.

"It's rare to find a store where a father, grandfather and son can all find something to wear," he said. "We can find something for anyone."

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@timesfreepress.com.

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury covers police and crime in Chattanooga and Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She's been with the paper since 2012, working first as an intern and then as a business reporter. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint ...

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