Creating Fort McMurray’s Sharp Dressed Man with Bob Barrett’s Men’s Apparel
In 1983 the infamously-bearded rock band ZZ Top made the claim that ladies go crazy for a sharp dressed man – and for more than three decades local business Bob Barrett Men’s Apparel has been dedicated to outfitting the sharp dressed Fort McMurray man. Originally located in Peter Pond Mall, Bob Barrett Men’s Apparel has called their MacDonald Avenue location home for over twenty years, taking advantage of the ability to create a quiet oasis for male fashion fans who may not relish a trip to a busy and crowded shopping mall. Subsequent to the Horse River Fire in May, 2016, all inventory in the store was lost due to smoke damage, with the store requiring an intensive cleaning prior to restocking. The store reopened on July 14 with basic items, achieving a full inventory level in time for the fall 2017 season.
Bob Carrothers, current owner of Bob Barrett Men’s Apparel, purchased the retail outlet from the store founder and namesake Bob Barrett. Carrothers bought the store approximately twelve years ago after working with Bob Barrett for fourteen years and developing a keen interest in continuing the tradition of being the primary provider of quality men’s fashion in the Fort McMurray community.
“Bob was really the one who started the store,” says Carrothers. “We developed the plan for me to eventually take over ownership, providing an opportunity for me professionally and for the store to continue filling the niche market of upper-end men’s apparel.”
The store itself is a showcase of current and traditional men’s fashion, featuring everything from casual apparel to formal wear. On the casual side, one can find trendy and popular clothing lines such as Bugatti, Robert Graham, Tommy Bahama and more, while more traditional lines such as Ted Baker and Samuelsohn are also available. Rounding out the offerings are every kind of accessory a well-dressed man might need, such as footwear, belts, ties, socks, underwear, cufflinks and seasonal wear such as gloves and scarves.
Quality denim lines are also available, such as Fidelity, and Bob Barrett Men’s Apparel also carries golf apparel for the local golf enthusiast. The outlet also rents tuxedos for special events such as graduation ceremonies and weddings, the only local store providing this service and allowing customers to forego the expense of travelling to rent such apparel for special occasions. Bob Barrett Men’s Apparel also offers made-to-measure suits and dress shirts, custom fitted and finished with attention to detail and quality.
Carrothers says the outlet attempts to carry a wide variety of styles and options to appeal to different fashion tastes, but the focus is always on providing quality men’s wear comparable to what would be found in larger centres. He describes Bob Barrett Men’s Apparel as a one-stop shop for men’s wear, with a strong commitment to one key facet: the customer experience.
“We focus on customer service and fit,” says Carrothers. “We have our own tailor shop, so we do all our own tailoring. We also provide measuring services, and we ensure everything fits properly and is tailored properly for our customers.”
Carrothers’ staff provides advice and assistance to customers that goes beyond fit, including suggestions on colour combinations and encouragement to try new styles and cuts. Men’s fashion, once a bit staid and traditional, has become more adventurous, and Bob Barrett Men’s Apparel provides customers with an opportunity to sample the current trends while still accessing the more traditional favourites.
In a competitive shopping world, Carrothers and his team have developed a loyal clientele who may have initially been attracted by the many options offered in the store but who return regularly because of the attention to customer service.
“We often hear that men can find all the lines at our store that they would need to go to three or more different stores to find in a major centre. We are a bit unique in that we don’t need to be exclusive to just a few brands,” says Carrothers. “That is definitely an aspect that contributes to our success. In part that is due to listening to our customers and understanding what lines they are seeking, and then working to make those lines of apparel available to them in our outlet.”
The centralized downtown location of Bob Barrett Men’s Apparel is a definite advantage, with the stand-alone store offering ample parking and a quiet, relaxed shopping atmosphere. “Guys aren’t always comfortable in a shopping mall,” says Carrothers. “In our location, we can provide an environment more conducive to an enjoyable and less rushed retail experience.”
The focus on customer service includes a strong eye for quality, including ensuring all lines carried are constructed from good quality fabrics. “This sets us apart from some of the other men’s clothing retailers, where the clothing is often made of cheaper fabrics. Quality matters, and we are committed to providing apparel that meets high standards in that regard,” says Carrothers.
Over the years, first under the guidance of Bob Barrett and now Bob Carrothers, Bob Barrett Men’s Apparel has developed a strong reputation for quality and customer service. In a world where online shopping has changed the way millions approach retail, Bob Barrett Men’s Apparel continues to stand apart and serves as an exemplary model of a client-focused, independent local business. Sharp-dressed men in Fort McMurray know the secret to staying on top of the fashion trends: it all begins at Bob Barrett Men’s Apparel, providing quality men’s apparel and excellent customer service for over thirty years.