This coming week, J. Breuer Clothing in downtown Grass Valley will mark one year since its opening — or “reopening,” as owner Julie Breuer puts it.
Breuer’s great-grandfather opened Vic Breuer’s Menswear on Mill Street in 1937. The family business was later known as Breuer’s Clothing, which was last owned by Breuer’s parents and closed in 2003.
Breuer opened the business at 141 Mill St. with her husband, Brandon Miller, last year — becoming the fourth generation in her family to run a clothing store in that same building.
“I think it’s really cool to have that longevity,” said Breuer, adding that she is excited to see her two children, Gracie and Tanner, be the fifth generation in her family to grow up with the family clothing store.
In its year open, J. Breuer Clothing has also expanded into 143 Mill St., where it sells men’s clothing.
According to Miller, while he and Breuer were initially concerned when first opening the store that their space was too big, they quickly found as they stocked it that it was actually too small. A solution for that came soon after, as the space next door became available for lease.
While they took over the next door unit last December, Breuer said Wednesday that it took until recently to get it fully up and running, adding that it is “packed” now.
“We thought it’d be perfect to move the men’s section to the other side of the store, so we could really add to the men’s lines,” said Miller.
Since its opening last year, J. Breuer Clothing has sold men’s and women’s clothing, although Miller said one of the goals in opening the store was always to add to the options available for men’s clothing downtown.
One of the store’s biggest challenges, said Miller, has been getting new lines of clothing into the store, a process which can involve ordering up to a year ahead of time.
“A year into it, we feel like the store is in a much better place,” said Miller.
He explained that the store has been able to add more inventory and a wider selection as it adjusts to the community — for example, adding to its “big and tall” sizing based on customer feedback, as well as balancing its inventory between premium lines and more affordable options.
“People have really supported us, and come down and shopped local,” said Breuer. “And that has been huge for us.”
‘A COMMUNITY EXPERIENCE’
Breuer described the last year of running a business out of the building she spent much of her childhood in as “heartwarming,” adding that some of the people who have come into the store had seen her grow up there.
Having moved back to Grass Valley with Miller and their children after some time in Idaho, Breuer said her favorite part of “reopening the store” has been reconnecting with the community.
Reminders of the original store have come in a variety of forms.
Down in the basement of the 143 Mill St. unit, Breuer said there are handprints in the concrete which were made in 1974, displaying the history of the store and several people who worked there at the time.
As a child, Breuer and her sister sometimes walked from nearby Mt. St. Mary Academy, where they attended school, to the store and got to work on marking a new shipment of Levi’s jeans that had come in, to later be rewarded with getting to pick out a soda.
Her store continues to carry Levi’s jeans, which Breuer mentioned as she recounted that a customer had come into the store one day and told her that he used to buy Levi’s jeans from her great-grandfather.
He bought another pair from her that day.
“I think that downtown Grass Valley offers more than just shopping,” said Breuer. “It’s a community experience.”
Victoria Penate is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at [email protected]