When Jamie Jones's father passed away last October, she had a garage full of his Armani suits, Hugo Boss pants, Christian Dior neckties, Ralph Lauren shirts and shoes that cost up to $500.
She didn't want to give away the expensive, high-end wardrobe, but after multiple consignment shops rejected her items because they had little interest in men's clothes, she thought, "Why not open up a consignment shop just for men?"
Jones opened Billy's Closet at 117 Main Street in downtown Wheaton about three weeks ago. With the help of a retail grant from the City of Wheaton, she has been able to transform the 850-square-foot space that was formerly Impressions Boutique. The upscale men's clothing store is inviting with new overhead lighting, high ceilings, fresh paint, and a cozy leather couch—next to a table full of fashion magazines—outside the dressing room.
After 35 years at various customer service jobs, Jones said she grew tired of working for younger, unappreciative bosses. She decided the consignment shop would be the perfect opportunity to be her own boss.
"I love it," she said. "...This way, I'm on my own, doing what I want."
Jones accepts pre-owned clothing that have been dry-cleaned, pressed and are defect-free. She pays consigners 40 percent of the selling price, and keeps the items on store shelves for up to 60 days. The consigner may pickup their item within 60 days if it doesn't sell, Jones said.
While she's heard positive feedback about the need for and uniqueness of a men's consignment shop, Jones said she hasn't sold as much as she thought she would have by now. “I’m getting more things in (from consigners),” she said.
After consulting men's fashion magazines and a few Wheaton College students who have popped in to the store, Jones said she's beginning to look for more fashionable items on eBay to sell in the store. "They want all straightleg and skinny jeans... Polo is not that popular any more," she said.
"It's all retro and hipster... Have you seen the red pants they've been wearing?"
And while it's sometimes hard to see her father's clothes leave the store with a new owner, "He would be happy to see all of this being sold," Jones said.
"You think about (him) when you see a certain shirt," remembering when he wore it, she said. She pointed to an outfit in the front window, "The green shirt in the window—he wore to my wedding," she said.
“He was a big shopper, and had all kinds of clothes,” Jones said. "...We just grew up with fashion, with my dad."
She said she and her sister, both natives of Wheaton, always had the most fashionable clothes in high school because of their parents.
Jones sells full suits, casual and dress pants, casual and dress shirts, sweaters, coats, shoes and accessories, including neckties and watches.
The brands range from Ralph Lauren, J. Crew and Brooks Brothers to some American Eagle items, and Swiss Army, Armani and Invictus watches. Dress shirts are priced from about $12 up to $30, and prices range for suits. The Armani suit, said Jones, is $120.
The store's merchandise has grown, "like leaps and bounds," Jones said. "I am really getting it in like you won't believe but it's not going out... I've just got to give it more time... get (the store) more decorated... get it really kind of neat looking," she said.
"I just hope it works and word gets out."
Billy's Closet's hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.