Courtesy of Nate DeMars
Three Ohio State graduates have opened a pop-up suit shop in the South Campus Gateway, called Pursuit, which sells new, brand-name suits to college-age men.
Nate DeMars, founder and CEO of Pursuit, opened the store Oct. 20 with two friends he met through the MBA program in the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State. Shay Merritté and Anil Das partnered with DeMars in a class project for an entrepreneurship class in January.
From there, the idea grew into the pop-up retail store at OSU after they graduated in June 2011.
“Every guy on campus needs a suit for some reason, whether it’s for a job interview, a formal event, or some other function,” DeMars said. “The places where they were shopping weren’t really for them … I thought they were kind of outdated and boring or expensive and pretentious.”
Despite its small space, the store has a surprisingly large selection, covering about 90 percent of men’s sizes, and special orders can be filled within a week, DeMars said. Pursuit’s target market is 18- to 24-year-old males seeking a Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Marc Ecko or DKNY suit in the price range of $199 to $399.
“We are here for the guys that don’t enjoy the process of shopping,” DeMars said. “They want it simple and more convenient. They want someone they can get approachable advice from who’s not trying to push whatever they have to make a commission.”
DeMars said that the neighbors in the South Campus Gateway have been great, especially since there’s no competition. He mentioned possibly teaming up with one of the restaurants to do a holiday party before finals.
Julia Garnica, a first-year graduate student in clinical counseling and employee at The Pub & Restaurant next door to Pursuit, said that The Pub would love to team up for a promotion for both businesses.
“Absolutely, I’m sure that we’d love to do that,” Garnica said.
Alterations are not available in the store but Pursuit has a list of recommended local tailors.
“Our thought is that we’re pricing this very competitively so you can buy a $200 suit and go get $20 in alterations and you’re still saving money over going to most places,” DeMars said.
Though its name might imply otherwise, Pursuit sells accessories like ties, suspenders and belts, as well as Homage brand T-shirts.
What was supposed to be a one-month lease has turned into two and the store will now be open through finals week until Dec. 19.
Chris Tudor, an employee at The Pub & Restaurant, said that they have been good neighbors, though he has never bought anything.
“I’ve actually walked by a few times and checked out what they, had but I’m a sweatshirt and jeans type of guy myself,” Tudor said.
Sean Edwards, a third-year in biology, said he has not been to Pursuit yet, but plans on checking it out soon.
“Well, I love to wear suits as is so if (Pursuit is) cheaper than other places I buy them, I will definitely have to check out what they have,” Edwards said.
DeMars said some of the pains with being a new business are working themselves out as people are learning about the new store.
“What we’re surprised with is having a lot of people stop in just because they’ve walked by and didn’t know we were here,” DeMars said. “Now we’re getting to a point where the word is starting to spread through friends and online and having people come in specifically to buy a suit. So that’s the encouraging part that makes us want to try another month here and see how it continues to build.”
DeMars said the average college male buys a suit only twice in his college career. Pursuit is looking to supplement the store with other types of clothing. Student and Greek organizations might also be eligible for 5 percent of their sales to be donated back to their organization. A travelling suit truck is also a business possibility DeMars said he and his partners have considered taking to other colleges in the area.
The name Pursuit obviously hints to its main merchandise, but DeMars also explained that it relates to a stage of life.
“It’s a little bit self-explanatory … when you’re buying products like this, you’re buying them for major life events,” DeMars said. “We’re helping outfit guys for the pursuit for whatever they’re after.”