Some people might try to tell you that jeans are only to be worn on weekends or vacations, when you’re doing work around the house or perhaps on casual Fridays at the office.
Just don’t tell Donald and Stephanie Smith that.
The husband and wife team recently opened Elmira’s newest apparel store, Core Clothing, and have placed a strong emphasis on denim clothes and accessories, based on their own tastes and their love for the versatile material.
“There’s a wide range of denim. You can have dark dressy denim, and you can have casual, torn up, ripped up jeans right off the shelf,” said Donald. “You can wear it with anything and wear it anywhere.”
The store is located at 5 Church St. East in Elmira, directly across from the Shoppers Drug Mart and just around the corner from Inspiring Accents.
When you walk into Core Clothing, one of the first things you notice is how bright and roomy the store is. Despite only being about 850-square feet, it feels much larger.
“This place was very crowded with a lot of temporary walls,” said Donald of the location, which used to be a paint store and was the site of the Sears catalogue pickup. “We took out three levels of flooring, put a nice floor down and tried to keep as much space in here as we could.”
About 15 tons of material was removed during the renovation process, he said, and the couple did most of their own renovations after the closing day on Nov. 1, and have spent the past three months transforming the store to match their own unique style. They officially opened on Mar. 21.
The large windows out front provide lots of natural light inside the store, which is amplified by the light-toned hardwood flooring and creates a welcoming atmosphere. During renovations they even uncovered the original brick wall at the back of the shop and spent a week chipping away at the old plaster to expose the pale yellow and red brick to further accent the store.
“It was a big job but we love the exposed brick wall, so we wanted to get it all uncovered,” laughed Stephanie, who was born in Elmira but moved to Waterloo when she was five, only to return about five years ago to raise a family.
The store specializes in brands that are known for their denim lines, or as accessories to denim. Brands such as Bench, Buffalo or Silver Tab jeans line the shelves, along with a wide range of hats, purses, bags, jackets, watches and belts.
The couple has even been told that their store looks like it belongs more in downtown Toronto than downtown Elmira, but they’re convinced that the time is right to open a trendy clothing shop in town.
“There are so many young families moving in now,” said Stephanie, adding that they are excited about the new subdivision developments in town, “and so far we’re serving a wide range – our youngest customer is 12 and our oldest was 70.”
Owning their own business isn’t new to Donald or Stephanie, either. They also run the landscaping company Rain Maker Sprinkler Systems in Elmira, and are confident they can do both effectively.
“We’re service oriented with Rain Maker, and it’s only a summer business,” said Donald, adding that they would operate the landscaping company out of Core Clothing’s office as well.
To help with running the clothing store, they have hired a full-time store associate, Madison Rotteveel, as well as two part-time employees to help fill in wherever needed. The store will always have two people working there at all times, one of which will usually be either Stephanie or Donald.
“It’s lots of hours for about three other people besides us,” Donald said.
They hope that the widespread appeal of their products across almost any age group will lead to long-term success for their store, and that they can one day pass it along to their three children so they can run it themselves.
“We wanted our very own thing, and that’s why we got into the denim – it’s different than any other store in town, there is no store with a focus on denim and things you would wear with denim,” explained Donald.
“We wear it to work, we wear it out to the club, I’ve never worn anything else really,” said Donald of his personal attraction to the material.
“I have one suit, and I bought it a long time ago,” he added with a laugh.