Monday, December 4, 2023

R. Bryant, Ltd. buttoning up its doors as owner retires after 50 years in the clothing industry

Rusty Bryant, owner of R. Bryant, Ltd. in Merchants Square. (WYDaily/Gabrielle Rente)

The traditional men’s clothing store, R. Bryant, Ltd. is leaving the shopping scene in Merchants Square this spring.

Rusty Bryant, the store’s owner, has decided to retire.

His store has been a part of the Merchants Square shopping center since 1981, selling high quality men’s attire from all over the world. Many of the knits come from Italy, while others originate in England, Australia, and Canada.

Bryant began his career working with Beecroft and Bull in 1963 in his hometown, Newport News. He was a freshman out of college and enjoyed shopping at the store with his friends. When the owners asked if he would be interested in working there, he agreed.

“I’ve always liked clothing,” he said. “I’ve been blessed to wake up everyday and look forward to doing something.”

After college, Bryant moved up to a managing position. In 1972, Beecroft and Bull opened a new branch on Duke of Gloucester Street, where Bryant managed until 1981. That year, he entered into a new leasing agreement with Colonial Williamsburg to open his own store.

Bryant has been in Merchants Square ever since.

He said that he remembers when current Colonial Williamsburg President, Cliff Fleet, just a young boy, and would come into the store with his father.

“I believe I might have sold him his first blue blazer,” Bryant said with a smile.

R. Bryant, Ltd., located at 429 Duke of Gloucester St. (WYDaily/Photo by Gabrielle Rente)

Over the years, Bryant has also been asked to speak to business school students at the College of William and Mary about the importance of professional attire and how to build a functional wardrobe.

He advised the best way to improve one’s wardrobe is to have clothing for all facets of life.

“You need clothes you feel comfortable going to work in and then the sportswear you like to hang out in. Those two categories drive how you put a wardrobe together,” he said.

But recent trends of “down dressing” have caused challenges for the traditional clothing industry. With more people working from home, Bryant said many do not feel the need to dress up.

“We’ve adapted though,” he said, attributing the store’s survival to a shifted emphasis on traditional sportswear.

What also makes R. Bryant, Ltd. unique is that all alterations and customizations can be done in house. Instead of taking clothing items to another location, customers have the convenience of having outfits tailored in the store.

But like how a tailored jacket needs alterations with age, Bryant said it’s time for him to alter his own life from a businessman to a retired one. As the pandemic continues and the lease on the store runs up, Bryant said the timing couldn’t be better.

“Timing is everything in life,” he said. “I’ve had a wonderful career and now I’d like to enjoy the rest of my healthy days.”

Bryant said he plans to enjoy his retirement golfing and spending time at his house in Florida.

A closing sale will start Friday, March 5 and run for about two months. Bryant says he expects to close the shop on May 15 or sooner if he runs out of inventory.

R. Bryant is located at 429 Duke of Gloucester St. and the store is opened 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mondays to Saturdays, and from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Sundays. Visit the store’s website here to see more details on inventory and contact information.


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