Jeff DaQuanno, a partner in Carriages Fine Clothiers (established 1982 in Baton Rouge by Dr. Richard Hill), knew his store needed a refresh but wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it. Consulting with Billy Neville, they came up with a plan to add energy and a more contemporary feel to an already successful but somewhat traditional 4,000 square-foot space.
“We started as a prep shop with a strong collegiate (LSU) following but evolved into a menswear store with about 70 percent tailored clothing, including upscale brands like Oxxford suits,” explains DaQuanno. “When Larry, the partner who accounted for the majority of our sales, left the business, we knew it was time for a change. So, we cut a hole in the wall and added a Tommy Bahama shop with fabulous fixturing and props including a 100-year-old boat that, as (our) legend has it, was the vessel that Tommy built with his grandfather. We brought in modern brands like Faherty and Billy Reid and denim brands like AG and Citizens of Humanity. We focused on margin makers like Peter Millar, Eton, Vineyard Vines, Stenstroms and Polo but also brought in some handmade Japanese lines for more sophisticated customers. And, of course, we still sell tailored clothing: we do very well with Samuelsohn, Jack Victor and LBM. Another success secret: young buying talent, especially Will Aguirre.”
DaQuanno claims to be amazed every day at the volume increases the business is now generating, not to mention the 50 percent end-season margins and winning Best Men’s Store in Baton Rouge. “But what really happened,” he confides, “is that with a new strategy, we regained our confidence.”
And as we all know, confidence is at least half the battle.