After 30 years in the business of dressing Powell River, Armitage Mens Wear owner Ron Armitage is celebrating the store’s milestone anniversary this month.
During the month of March, the store is holding daily draws for prizes and on March 31 will be giving away a $300-gift certificate to one of the daily draw entries.
“Come by the store and enter the draw for your chance to win,” says Ron.
For the past three decades, Armitage Mens Wear has been located in the Powell River Town Centre mall; the past 11 years in his current location and the previous 19 in a unit a few over.
"I can't believe how many customers have come in during the last few months to thank me for staying open. It’s been really great to hear,” says Ron. ”Helping people is really important to me.”
He adds that one of the most important ideas he shares with his staff is how important their customers are to the store’s ongoing success.
“I tell my staff that I'm not the boss, our customers are," says Ron. "Customer service is my number one priority.”
While there are a lot of businesses that say that customer service is key to their business, Armitage Mens Wear has built its reputation on it, he says.
Ron has always viewed other businesses that sold similar products not necessarily as competitors but as other options for customers — if he didn't have what they were looking for at his store, they might.
“That's customer service to me. A lot of people didn't expect this. They had never had that before.”
Ron adds he doesn’t just rest on selling products that have traditionally sold well. Instead, he takes a few chances.
“People come in and they don't expect to find half the products that I carry,” he says. “I pick everything that's in my store. I listen to what my customers are looking for.”
Anyone familiar with Ron’s shop knows that while he does sell suits and ties and rents tuxedos, customers can equally find a wide assortment of skateboard shoes, a hoodie, and new trucks for their board.
In 1997, Ron, who has a history of supporting Powell River’s minor sports and community non-profits, was involved in getting the first skate park built through his involvement with Powell River Chamber of Commerce.
About that time, he had a kid walk into his store and ask if he could buy a deck.
Ron replied, "Sorry, I don't sell cards."
Giving him a puzzled look, the kid leaned in and said, "No, I want a skateboard."
At that time, Armitage didn't sell skateboards or skateboard clothing. Ron phoned a friend who connected him with a skateboarding equipment company in Vancouver. He’s been placing orders with them ever since.
Ron says that while his suppliers may suggest items for him to stock, ultimately he decides what ends up at his shop.
"I'm always on the hunt for things that are unique and unexpected," he says.
He adds that if he doesn’t have something a customer is looking for, he is more than happy to either order it or pick it up.
Ron says his secret is that he has forged a strong relationship with the community through his volunteerism and his support for minor hockey. He listens to what his customers want and goes out of his way to help when he can.
Ron, who just turned 65, is not looking at slowing down any time soon, and while it might be a little much to expect another 30 years from him, he says that he'll keep at it for the foreseeable future.
"I enjoy what I do and that's what it's all about," says Ron. "It's been a good run."
Armitage Mens Wear is located at #10 - 7100 Alberni Street. Regular hours are from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, but, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, current hours are from 11 am to 4 pm. For more information call 604.485.9493 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.