Your Father’s Store, Revisited

Published on: Thu, Dec 28, 2017

Light pours through oversized windows, illuminating the large, brick-walled space. It spills onto sparkling jewelry displays, illuminating clothing-lined racks and just barely kisses the corner shelves stocked with candles and other delicate items. Like the historic building it’s in, this store has deep roots in the past, where the local haberdashery offered fine high-end tailoring and goods to discerning gentleman. Yet this place also projects a modern vibe, much like the city itself.

The store is J.T. Clothiers, stocked with a wide array of beautiful, high-end home goods, clothing and accessories of such vibrant colors, unique textures, and products so fashionable you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported to a time where tailors fitted your clothes in-store and items were made with no detail left unattended. Hiding behind the Patagonia flannels and True Grit jackets lies the heart of the store, an area that pays homage to its original intent from 47 years ago.

Two upholstered leather chairs mark a change in atmosphere, and beyond lies a room filled with beautiful sport coats, silk ties, and dress pants just waiting to be tailored. This is where the magic happens. This is where it all began.

“My father started the business in 1970.”

Third-generation clothier and store owner Jimmy Tritt relaxes in his chair, hands folded. In his mind, he has left the room and is standing in that original store on Sunset Blvd. “It started out as a men’s only store, men’s suits, and sport coats – all that kind of stuff.”

Racks of clothes fill the beautiful interior of JT Clothiers, 200 W Oak St. (Photo by Savannah Hubbard/Denton Live)

Eight years later, the neighboring store vacated, and Nancy and James Tritt saw an opportunity for expansion. So they cut a hole in the wall and the ladies section was born. J.T. Clothiers later relocated and spent 31 years in Denton’s South Ridge Village. When their son Jimmy took over management of the store, he began looking for a location that would put J.T. Clothiers at the center of the community, envisioning a space where the business could more closely connect with its customers.

“I had been looking on the square for about 3-4 years but there was nothing available that would suit our nature for the business,” Jimmy says. “Most of the buildings on the square are narrow and deep, not much window frontage – that kind of store is hard to lay out.”

But fate was on his side, and when Thomas Ethan Allen furniture store left their downtown corner location, Jimmy jumped at the opportunity. After taking a look at the location, Nancy and Jimmy decided that the space needed some work. The building holds important historical significance for Denton as the site of the original Texas Normal College, where in 1890, 70 students began the legacy that would become the University of North Texas. The Tritts wanted to honor the space’s heritage.

“We wanted it to be modern but historic. I love the historical downtown. I love the buildings, I love what you can come in here and do with it – so everything we did when we designed this space, we kept in mind the building’s historical value,” he said.

The renovations left the original concrete floor and tin ceilings untouched, but the brick had to be replaced so the pair found brick from the original time period and had it laid exactly as it would’ve been in 1890. Amidst brick laying and designing, the mother-son duo did some digging, and found priceless pieces of Denton’s history.

J.T. Clothiers moved into 200 W Oak St. The location had once been the home of Texas Normal College (now the University of North Texas) and most recently, was the Thomas Ethan Allen furniture store. (Photo by Savannah Hubbard/Denton Live)

“Any time you can restore an old building like this you find things,” Jimmy’s eyes light up with the subtle twinge of excitement of someone who’s about to let you in on a secret. “We found things in the attic, checks that were from the 1920’s and all kinds of antique things.”

After three months of renovations, J.T. Clothiers opened its doors. Locals and out-of-towners alike, seeking quality clothing items and a custom experience, frequent the store.

“I think it’s very important that people feel like they’re always welcome to come in,” Jimmy says. “Most of my customers are friends of mine. I have second and now third generation family members that are shopping with us. We’ve known their grandparents, their parents, and now the kids.”

That’s what it’s all about. Serving the Denton community, cultivating relationships, and providing quality products. Forty-seven years ago James Tritt brought a custom menswear retailer to Denton. His legacy not only lives on today, but has expanded.

“I think quality is the big deal for my father and my mother,” Jimmy says. ‘They truly believed in providing a good value for your dollar. They always searched for great quality merchandise, and I think that that’s something we will continue to do as long as this store is functioning.”
“I hope he’s proud of it.”