After more than two decades of operating Armitage Men’s Wear in Town Centre Mall, Ron Armitage has watched several generations of Powell River kids grow up and graduate – and he’s helped clothe and outfit them along the way.
“This is the best place in town to shop,” said Jon, who was browsing the store looking for a new wallet. “Ron is just a great guy. I’ve been coming here since I was 12 years old and this is the only place I go for clothes and shoes.”
That sentiment was repeated over and over as PRDN approached customers at Armitage Men’s Wear in early March. “I buy 90% of my clothes from here,” said 15-year-old Braeden, listing the goods he has purchased over the years. “My phone case, awesome pairs of shoes, underwear, sweaters, jacket, coffee mugs, long board, skateboard, sleeping bag, jackets, wallets, backpacks, hardware, stickers, kneepads, even cologne were all purchased here.”
This year, after being nominated 20 times, Armitage Men’s Wear received the Powell River Chamber of Commerce 20th Annual ‘Horizon Business Award’ for Customer Service. “This means a lot to me, because it’s from the kids,” Ron said.
“Ron and Armitage Men’s Wear totally deserve the award, this store should have received it years ago for their great customer service,” said Hayley, who shopped at the store when she was in her teens and still frequents its aisles looking for brand names she trusts. “He’s the kindest man, he’s very generous. He gives great discounts and he’s always looking for products you can’t get in Powell River. Stuff he knows young people like.”
Stuff like BetterSaxx underwear, ‘2 UNDR,’ with a special ‘joey pouch’ that advertises ‘better ball control on and off the court.’ And Instance Sox that come mismatched. Or TenTree products that promise to plant a tree for each purchased item. “The company was started by three kids from Regina, Saskatchewan and they have planted more than 3 million trees since they began,” Ron said. “I like to support these types of endeavours.”
That’s not all Ron supports, in fact if you take a look, Armitage Men’s Wear is behind many Powell River projects, including the popular Skateboard and Bike Park. Ron also runs the Powell River Junior A Hockey team’s merchandise booth at each Kings’ game and he’s the treasurer for PR Eight Ball league, playing for the Carlson Cue Clan. “Poncho Noble is our captain, the head of the team.”
Now, with graduation approaching Ron is busy with the annual celebration, measuring young men for their black and white outfits, assuring them and their parents that yes, that size is available, and yes, the shirt they are looking for is available as well. “Even if I have to go out of town to find it,” he said. “I had a young man once who really wanted a suit with a Mandarin collar, but it was a hard size to find. In a couple of days I had tracked down a new line of suits and found the size he required. It makes me happy to see a customer satisfied.”
While helping to clothe the young people of Powell River, Ron and his wife raised their own family and are now grandparents. “We have a 14-month-old granddaughter and in April our grandson turns one.” They have helped young people learn the retail trade by giving them their first job and Ron is proud of the relationships they’ve formed over the years. “Young people who used to shop here, who have moved away, pop in when they are back in Powell River and former employees stop by when they come to town for a visit. It is always good to see familiar faces.”
Janet has shopped at Armitage Men’s Wear for 26 years and she will be at the shop this weekend to help celebrate Armitage Men’s Wear’s 26th anniversary. “Ron is a great guy and this is a good shop,” she said. “I’m wearing a pair of pants I bought here right now.” Janet says Ron is more than a shop keeper, he’s a friend. “He even lets me charge my iPhone here where I know it is safe and I really appreciate that.”
This Monday, March 28th marks the 26th anniversary of Armitage Men’s Wear, and customers and friends are invited to drop by the store and say hi. “It’s my customers and employees that need to be thanked,”Ron said. “I always told my staff I’m not your boss, the customers are your boss. Keep them happy!”