By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer
In January, Jett & Hall men’s clothing store at 200 West Main Street, will close its doors after 75 years of business, said owner David Jett.
His parents, Paul and Amy Jett, opened “Paul Jett Shoes” in 1937. The store was originally at 214 West Main Street, three doors down from its current address.
Around 1960, Paul Jett expanded the family business and bought an existing men’s clothing store. He took on a partner named Joe Hall and officially changed the name of the store to Jett & Hall at that time. They kept the name when Paul bought out Hall in 1962, David said.
The Jett family also retained the storefront at 214 West Main and turned it into Jett & Hall Family Shoes, which shut down just three years ago.
On Tuesday afternoon, patrons who have enjoyed Jett & Hall’s services for years, visited the store to swoop up its signature dress clothes during the going-out-of-business sale.
Jett & Hall offers free alterations, tuxedo rentals, “high-quality products and fantastic service,” said sales associate Dan Plemons, who was measuring a suit for alterations worn by Tom Fitzpatrick of Richmond.
David Jett then helped Fitzpatrick slip on a matching jacket. After some consideration, Jett suggested a different style he thought would be better suited to Fitzpatrick’s frame —a ritual they have performed for almost 30 years.
Fitzpatrick moved to Richmond in 1975 and has since been a regular at Jett & Hall’s, he said.
Eastern Kentucky University 2011 graduate, Lukas Murphy, browsed the aisles Tuesday and eventually settled on a pair of plaid pants.
Murphy first visited Jett & Hall for a tuxedo rental when he was a member of the EKU University Singers.
“I like supporting small businesses,” he said. “I prefer to shop at a place like this.”
The Jett family has a long history as business owners in downtown Richmond. David’s grandfather, W.S. Jett, owned a clothing and dry goods store at the corner of First and Main streets in the early 1900s.
However, David Jett’s career goals had been different than that of his father and grandfather.
“My father’s philosophy was: ‘You have to work the rest of your life. You might as well enjoy your youth,’” David said.
After graduating from Model Laboratory School, David completed degrees in public administration and began a Michigan job in that field.
In 1974, his father offered him a position at the family store. He was more than happy to leave his public administration job that “wasn’t very exciting,” David said.
Business was lucrative at Jett & Hall until construction began on Interstate 75 in 1960. By the time I-75 construction was complete in Kentucky (1970), much of the traffic through Richmond had been rerouted to the interstate and the subsequent by-pass, he said.
“Before I-75, Main Street (Highway U.S. 25) was the only road from Detroit to Florida,” David said. “The by-pass changed the direction of doing business in Richmond.”
With customers funneling through from neighboring counties, “Richmond had always been a good business town,” he said. However, owning a store in a downtown area is “always a struggle due to lack of parking and other retailers.”
Another reason for a decline in customers is changes in the way men dress. Jett & Hall has traditionally sold more formal wear and business clothing. Just in the past decade, David said, men seem to only dress up for special occasions.
Proceeds from tuxedo rentals have kept Jett & Hall in business over the years, he said.
There also are changes in the way consumers shop that make it a challenge to keep the doors open, David said. “I’m 73 now and it is difficult for me to get a hold of marketing through social media. People are buying lots of things online with sophisticated websites.”
Finally, David wants to retire because he is 73, he said, and is ready to spend more time fishing, reading, traveling and enjoying his children and grandchildren.
Jett & Hall will feature close-out sales of 25 to 70 percent off on all merchandise. David is extending business hours from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Crystal Wylie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.