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Setting Up Shop

A look at the ins, outs, and old courthouse banisters involved in opening a men’s store nowadays.

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What: Carson Street Clothiers, open since March 2013
Where: 63 Crosby St., nr. Spring St.; 212-925-2627
Who: Former lawyers Brian Trunzo and Matt Breen
The Goods:Italian blazers from Eidos Napoli ($895), Ian Verlardi chinos ($245), and other high-end basics. As Trunzo puts it: “luxury with a lowercase ‘l.’”

1. The Location
“We considered the NoMad Hotel area, seeing that as the next fashion neighborhood,” says co-owner Brian Trunzo. “But we couldn’t afford to wait for it to develop around us. The rent at this Soho spot was comparable to Nolita prices.”

2. The Bones
“This building dates back to 1849, when the businesses were mostly paper-related—a stationer, a wastepaper manager. Recently, it was a gallery. We had to strip down the navy carpeting and white drywall.”

3. The Timeline
“When we signed the lease last November, we’d already bought for spring 2013; we had only about four months to get the store ready. All we kept was the brick wall behind the plywood.”

4. The Build
“We incorporated salvaged materials like reclaimed courthouse banisters; cast-iron racks collected from Scranton’s massive Olde Good Things warehouse; and barnyard wood, which we used to make an elevated stage at the center of the store— we call it our ‘altar’ for the Carson Street house label.”


5. The Small Touches
“There’s antique chandeliers—though recessed lighting overhead provides most of the actual light— and knickknacks everywhere: a vintage suitcase; distressed law books, nodding to the fact that my partner and I were attorneys. It’s a sophisticated industrial feel.”

The Unexpected
“We’ll bring in certain pieces just for the aesthetic, not expecting them to make money, but they surprise us sometimes. A $1,345 turquoise lambskin bomber jacket had a 70 percent sell-through when it was 68 degrees out. I’d bought one for myself but then had to put it back out on the floor when we ran out of that size.”

6. The Flow
“There’s a sense of discovery. You go from approachable button-downs toward more aspirational styles. In back there’s a lounge area with leather couches, a TV, and free beer and Jack Daniel’s. We like to sit around and talk with our customers, whether it’s about clothes or about football.”

The Ol' Deim Trick
“We strategically shift things around. Since guys are always going to want to buy denim, you can move something that isn’t selling closer to that section to give it more attention.”

7. The Clientele
“Our customers range from 15-year-olds who come in with their moms to 60-year-olds drawn to our aesthetic. And women buy our unisex tote bags.”

8. The Display
“We affixed wheeled iron legs to a six-foot-long wood table and splattered it with paint. The merchandise is spread out: We sacrifice selling-space square footage for ease of wandering through the racks and tables. You can stand with arms outstretched.”


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