Once a month or so we're going to feature a shop that carries the Ursa Major line. If you live nearby any of these spots, definitely stop by. Tell 'em Ursa Major sent you. This month we spoke with Armitage & McMillan co-founder Daniel Armitage about his beginnings in retail, his store, and life in the Mile High City.
Darin and I actually got into the retail side of the business fairly late in life, compared to most I think. We ran a successful vintage clothing buying/selling business for several years out of Denver but we could never figure out how to turn that business into something more enjoyable and sustainable, so we closed the business and moved to NYC (Darin to finally use his music business degree and me to work as a web designer). Somewhere along the way we both ended up on the retail side of menswear. I guess because we had so many years of buying clothing on our resumé, when our other ventures didn't work out, the default for both of us was the clothing business.
What are your anchor brands? Why have you chosen them?
I would say our anchor brands are Steven Alan, Save Khaki, Unis New York and Saturdays Surf NYC. First and foremost, we wanted brands that we personally love to wear and that we believe in as a company. Beyond that, we wanted to keep things really classic, choosing brands that had perfect staples and basics.
What are the keys to having a successful retail store?
I think the most important thing is to be a part of the community. One of the reasons opening a brick-and-mortar retail store was appealing to me was because I wanted to open a shop where people in the neighborhood could pop in and say "hi," hang out and chat and feel like the shop is a part of the neighborhood.
How does grooming/skin care into the mix at Armitage & McMillan?
A well thought-out grooming section is key for a menswear shop. I feel like a guy can’t have a complete outfit without finishing it off with grooming products that he loves. As Darin and I were doing our first buy for the shop, we wanted to make sure a guy could come in and leave with a full outfit, from the shirt to the pants, shoes, socks and tie/accessories, etc. We wanted the shop to feel complete. And to me, presenting the customer with the perfect grooming product to finish an outfit is all part of the big picture.
How do you respond to naysayers who contend that brick and mortar retail is dead?
I say, look around. New stores are popping up all around you. A new menswear/clothing retail scene is booming in Denver right now and it’s because Denver shoppers want the experience of going into a well put-together store to shop. Of course they can get every brand online these days, but they want to go to a nice shop with a nice aesthetic and feel the fabrics, try the fits and chat about their favorite brands. Over and over, in emails/messages and in person, guys have told me how happy they are that a local store finally stocks the Unis Gio pants so they can try them on and see what all the hype is about. They can’t do this sitting in front of their computer, ordering the Gio online.
Which band or artist gets the most love in your music rotation right now?
What are some of your favorite haunts in Denver?
Number 1 - Tom’s Home Cooking in Five Points. Two amazing owners, both named Tom and they serve perfect southern comfort food. The Toms actually remembered me, by name, when I came back to eat there after being away in NYC for more than 5 years. You can’t beat that. Also, love the Hi-Dive for live music, and we never miss a chance to drive a little outside of the city to hit the mountains.