The Tradition Continues for Smith's Men's Store in downtown Lake Forest
A totally remodeled Smith's Men's Store is reopening under new ownership on November 23, reigniting a retail establishment that since 1937 has been outfitting generations of men with everything from button-down shirts to wedding-day tuxedos.
The new owners, Trey Gonzales and Kip Helverson, will maintain many of Smith's beloved traditions while introducing popular clothing brands, men's accessories, gift items and apothecary products. Featured brands include Peter Millar, Vineyard Vines, Barbour, Southern Tide and johnnie-O. The store also will continue to offer formal-wear rentals and a plentiful supply of black bow ties for special events.
Smith's also is embracing new technology -- it has a new inventory system and recently launched its first-ever website, www.smithsmensstore.com.
"Our mission is to serve the needs of the men of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff, and to keep Lake Forest a weekend destination for people living outside of our community," said Helverson.
Located in its longtime storefront at 770 N. Western Avenue in downtown Lake Forest, Smith's is poised to give customers many reasons to shop in town rather than online. It will offer custom suiting and tailoring and special ordering with a quick turnaround time when an item is not in stock. Smith's also will host events benefiting non-profit organizations.
"Our service will set us apart from internet shopping," said Gonzales. "We want every customer to feel that we've been waiting all day for them to walk in the door. Even the interior is warm and welcoming -- my design inspiration for the space is a classic navy-blue blazer and khakis."
Helverson and Gonzales moved to Lake Forest from Chicago in 2017 and quickly got involved in the community. They are members of The Church of the Holy Spirit, and Gonzales is on the Lake Forest Preservation Foundation Board of Directors and Gorton Community Center's Arts & Culture Council.
Helverson works in software technology and Gonzales formerly managed a custom-lighting showroom at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. They both have a sense of style that is classic, timeless and current.
"Most of my fashion inspiration comes from classic movies," said Gonzales, who left his job in Chicago to manage Smith's full time. "Also, my years in the interior design industry have trained my eye to appreciate texture, color, fit, and quality."
The remodeled store will include historic Smith's photos, and gifts will leave the store tied in its signature red wrapping paper. Another longstanding tradition that customers will appreciate is the occasional presence of former owner John Tadel, who has been working with the new owners as an advisor.
The Smith's Men's Store grand reopening will begin with a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m.; the store will be open that day until 6 p.m. Smith's is located at 770 N. Western Avenue, Lake Forest. Call 847-234-5866 (longtime Smith's landline number) or visit www.smithsmensstore.com for more information.