Classic. That word can describe many things: Music. Cuisine. Clothing.
It’s the lattermost that concerns Maurie Allen. Despite some rather, umm, flashy socks on display, the attire at Captain’s Quarters has always hewed toward apparel that is both stylish and timeless.
That’s why Captain’s Quarters was voted “Best Men’s Clothing Store” by Express readers in the Grand Traverse area.
“We started in 1966, and 47 years later we’re still here,” said Allen from his store at 151 E. Front St. in downtown Traverse City.
But if it wasn’t for a decision made by the higher-ups at Montgomery Ward, the long-defunct department store chain, Captain’s Quarters might not even exist.
“I was about to be transferred by Montgomery Ward to Indiana,” he recalled.
“Betsy and I had three kids, and we decided we wanted to raise them here,” Good for them, and good for clothing aficionados. Allen bought a men’s clothing store from a downtown merchant who was looking to retire. A few years later he moved the store next door to its present location when a women’s clothing store moved out.
Back then, Captain’s Quarters was just one of more than a half-dozen haberdashers downtown. But while stores such as Hamilton’s, Pratt’s, and PA Jacobs have since closed their doors, Allen and his crew still sail those waters.
And they still provide the same service with styles that are not as trendy as parachute pants or T-shirts under unconstructed blazers.
“It’s an ever-changing industry,” said Allen. “We choose more traditional (lines). It doesn’t have chaotic change season-to-season.”
In addition to its traditional men’s fashions, Captains Quarters offers formal wear and scouting apparel and accessories.
“Prom and weddings – formal wear has become a very, very big part of our business,” said Allen.
So much so that in an effort to connect with trend-setters, the store now clothes students during school hours to showcase their styles.
“It’s our guerilla marketing,” said Allen with a laugh. “Kids relate to their peers much better than to old guys like me.”
Not only do styles change in the fashion industry, the stores themselves have changed dramatically as well.
“The nature of the industry is toward malls,” acknowledged Allen. “Being small, hometown store, we get so many great comments.”
Such as being named a “Best of” winner by Northern Express readers.
There’s no doubt that even after almost a half-century in the business, Allen still enjoys the interaction with customers.
“It’s fun. We are a social gathering place,” he said. “We have some clients that have been with us for 47 years. They come in to chat, share their lives.
“If you do something you love, you never have to work a day in your life.”