New owner takes downtown men’s clothing store to new ensembles.
When you step inside the recently renovated Samuel’s Menswear at 236 E. High St., you’ll notice the name on the signage is just one of many changes to the exterior. Outside isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Upon walking through the front door, you get the feeling you are entering an elegant country-side manor, complete with the smells of old wood, new leather, and the promise of something grand to come. Gleaming hardwood floors, elegant dark green walls, stylish trim, and crown molding complement the building’s original tin ceiling. Samuel’s luxurious atmosphere creates a perfect setting to display the wide array of high-end menswear and accessories awaiting eager shoppers.
Jefferson City native Hannah Spalding acquired the iconic Samuel’s Tuxedos and Gifts store from long-time owners Sam and Linda Bushman in January 2022. Before taking ownership, Hannah led a business development team at PSF Brands in Holts Summit and wanted a new challenge more suited to her fashion background.
“I knew I wanted to get into the fashion industry,” says Hannah, who holds a degree in textile and apparel management from MU.
She began talking with family and friends about potential options that would allow her to apply her talents and fill a need in the community. The opportunity to buy the local men’s clothing store presented itself when Hannah’s father heard through the grapevine the Bushmans were looking to sell. Pregnant at the time with her second child, Hannah went in person to visit with Sam Bushman about the prospect of taking over his business.
“It all just worked out,” she says.
Hannah entered the venture with a fi rm vision for transforming the clothing store into the warm, inviting space it is today. Using a computer application, she designed every delicate detail of the store’s remodeling plan — beginning the process the day the Bushmans handed her the keys. Conveniently, her husband, Derek, who works as a general contractor and is the owner of Spalding Constructors, handled the building upgrades.
Always dependable, Samuel’s Tuxedo had been a mainstay in downtown Jefferson City since 1991. In fact, the store remained open to its customers throughout the new renovation — with the exception of a two-week demolition period in early February. While a revamping of the store’s main sales area was completed by spring, several other projects are pending, including a new look for the building’s exterior entrance and the conversion of aside room to a space that will house men’s casual wear. As part of the transformation, Hannah wanted to tweak the store’s name a bit, changing it from Samuel’s Tuxedos and Gifts to Samuel’s Menswear, to reflect the fact that the retailer offers more than just tuxedo rentals and sales.
“Tuxedos will still be part of the business, but I want to really break into men’s casual wear, sportswear, and suits. I didn’t want the name to box it in and have people think they couldn’t come here and get a shirt to wear on the weekend.”
Samuel’s Menswear carries a variety of clothing brands including Pendleton, 7 Diamonds, and The Normal Brand, which is a men’s and women’s apparel line created by three brothers in St. Louis. In addition to suits, button-down shirts, dress pants, shorts, and golf shirts, the store offers men’s accessories such as ties, socks, handkerchiefs, and cufflinks. Leather briefcases, wine totes, and business portfolios round out the merchandise for sale.
“Tuxedos will still be part of the business, but I want to really break into men’s casual wear, sportswear, and suits.”
“I wanted to make sure we kept the existing clientele happy with clothing and brands they liked and were used to buying here, while also adding merchandise to appeal to young professionals.”
Still, tuxedo rentals are the main reason many people visit Samuel’s Menswear. Hannah estimates she has about 50 weddings booked for the fall season, and it’s not unusual for the store to juggle 15-16 weddings in one week. During this past prom season, Samuel’s coordinated nearly 250 rentals per week.
“I learned some things the hard way during prom season. There were times when we had 15-20 people lined up to rent tuxes because they all came in at the same time, like when they got out of school or when their parents got off work, and we only have four dressing rooms.
That situation led to implementing online scheduling, which allows customers to set up appointments in advance. And because taking measurements is not an exact science, Samuel’s Menswear now provides shirts and pants in every cut, size, and style for customers to try on before ordering to ensure a better fit and customer experience.“I think there are little things, like small touches, small businesses can do to set them apart from the competition,” says Hannah, who often works late into the night and on weekends to ensure the job gets done.
“I wanted to make sure we kept the existing clientele happy…while also adding merchandise to appeal to young professionals.”
She’s also been known to deliver items directly to wedding venues and visit hotels to pick up rental returns. Samuel’s Menswear also currently employs a full-time store manager and a part-time employee. Down the road, Hannah wishes to add another part-time worker and maybe even an in-house alterations specialist. For now, she is working to let the Jefferson City market know she is here to serve the community and fill the men’s clothing void.
“I want to be here for them and meet their needs. I welcome and value any input customers might have about how we can grow and improve.”
A new business owner and mother to her 5-year-old son, Hawk and 1-year-old daughter, Rayne, Hannah credits family and friends with helping her make this new venture a success.
“When they say it takes a village, it really does.”
Still, she says she’s glad she made the leap to become a small business owner and is looking forward to continuing the legacy and tradition of outfitting generations of Jefferson City men for years to come