Misty and Matt King have big plans for the former Peebles building in downtown Bryan.
In the middle two storefronts of 119 S. Main St., Misty plans to open a women’s clothing store, offering an array of stylish and sophisticated women’s clothing, shoes and accessories, plus distinctive items such as specialty foods and bar ware, in a boutique called ElliAnn’s.
On the other side, Matt’s plans call for contemporary and distinctive men’s clothing and accessories, along with his own specialty foods and items geared to men, in a store called The Mad Ox Men’s Emporium.
Together, the Kings say, they hope to bring a bit of cosmopolitan flair, casual sophistication and affordability to Bryan through what they promise will be a unique but accessible line of clothing, accessories and specialty items for both men and women — all offered in an open, casual and welcoming environment.
“We enjoy traveling, and I’m a shopper,” Misty King said with a laugh. “It’s been fun to go to different countries, experience different cultures ... so the idea with our stores is to bring all of our experiences and all of our ideas back to Bryan, Ohio,” she said.
She said interior and exterior remodeling began earlier this year and fortunately the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has not caused them any great setbacks. The Kings are now in the final stages of remodeling and plan a sneak peek as early as June 12, with an opening June 19.
King said when Peebles closed, she wasn’t necessarily thinking of opening a clothing store. She said she was just thinking of ways to help the building’s owner, her brother-in-law, Tyson King, find a new tenant for the commercial building at 119 S. Main St., on the east side of Bryan’s courthouse square.
“But I started throwing around ideas, jotting them down on my iPad ... I was thinking, ‘If I opened a boutique, what would it look like? What would I name it?’” said King, a 1993 Bryan High School grad who had worked her way through Wittenburg University with jobs in various retail clothing stores in the Dayton and Springfield area.
“I was literally drawing and pasting and cutting out clothes and ideas for a store; so I had this whole storyboard (but) I never intended to do anything with it,” said King, who already had a busy life. She and husband, Matt, have four kids, ages 14-22, she has a full-time career as a Realtor and she volunteers with Kiwanis, Sarah’s Friends and Community Health Partners.
But then she showed her storyboard to Matt one night at dinner, “and he loved it. And from then on, there was no turning back. We were off to the races,” King exclaimed with a laugh.
Looking back, King said the decision to open complimentary clothing stores for men and women was obvious.
“Tyson needed a tenant, I have family and friends who need jobs, and we were about to lose the only clothing store in the area. We had to do something,” King said, laughing again.
Initially, the Kings will focus on the traditional face-to-face shopping experience and hope their shops help bring some life back to downtown Bryan.
“We could sell online but we want to get people in the door. We saw an opportunity for the community. We want people to come to downtown Bryan. We want Bryan to thrive,” Misty said as she and Matt talked about their plan and their products last week.
“We want to offer a place to hang out and have fun. We’ll have (specialty) coffee and teas,” she said. In particular, The Mad Ox Men’s Emporium — coincidentally located in the part of the former Peebles store that was devoted to men’s clothing — has devoted the back third of its 2,000-square-foot space to a place for men to gather and relax.
“We’ll have couches, shuffleboard, TV ... a place for men to feel comfortable if they’re done shopping and they want to hang out while their wife is shopping, or just a place to relax,” said Matt, who’s a principal in the King family’s business, HKK Machining Co., in West Unity.
Matt said some of his items include casual, lightweight antimicrobial shirts that he said are stylish and prevent odor better than traditional cotton; Mission brand belts with adjustable ratchet clasps; fun and colorful print swimsuits imported from Sweden; and wallets imported from the Netherlands; plus a special wallet with a switchblade-type mechanism that shingles the credit cards up and out of the wallet for easy access.
He’s also enthusiastic about specialty products like a chopping block made of ingrained cherry wood interlocked with steel dowels that is guaranteed for life, and cheese-stuffed baby squash and other gourmet spices and foodstuffs.
And both Matt and Misty laugh and promise some interesting flourishes in the front door display area and on the walls when The Mad Ox Men’s Emporium opens its doors.
Misty said she envisions ElliAnn’s — a combination of the first names of the Kings’ daughters, Elizabeth and Anniston — as a “boutique.” At about 4,000 square feet, it’s a smaller shop than a department store, but accented by specialty items such as barware, stemware, decanters and specialty foods.
She said ElliAnn’s specializes in fashionable and environmentally conscious clothes, dresses, jewelry and accessories. She points out that much of her clothing is from a fabric “unlike anything most people around here have seen. It’s flexible, but not clingy. And it looks great,” she said.
Other items include handbags from Paris, Italian leather goods and fashionable but affordable sunglasses and belts. She carries a line of shoes from the Charleston Shoe Company made with a stretch fabric that is completely washable and comes in a variety of “fun colors,” she noted.
She showed off a handbag with wheels and collapsible handle that converts into “wheelie” or “rollaboard,” which are those small suitcases that are popular at airports, King said.
The Kings have completely remodeled the combined 6,000 square feet of first-floor space, adding new flooring, carpeting, lights and paint. There are separate entries from the street to each store, but an open entryway inside allows easy flow between the stores.
“I wanted both stores to be fun and funky, but each one have its own identity,” Misty said.
“We’re going to hit this town with stuff you’ve never seen before. We have some really great products at a great price. We’re going to have people saying, ‘Wow, that’s some cool stuff,’” Matt said.