Steamboat Springs Things are changing at Allen’s Clothing in downtown Steamboat Springs, and that’s a good thing.
As his father, Tod Allen, did in 1977, Kris Allen has joined the family business full time. Kris, 22, has worked at the store, which his grandfather and great-grandfather opened in 1949 as Allen’s Menswear, during summers and holidays his entire life.
After a couple of years at Western State College of Colorado in Gunnison and completing a program at Learning Pathways in Boulder, which assists students with dyslexia, Kris returned to Steamboat at the beginning of summer 2011. Now, Kris is working at Allen’s and learning the intricacies of the business in order to one day take over.
“That’s the plan,” Kris said. “I definitely have a lot to learn. I’d like to grow the business, of course.”
He’s already getting started.
Tod took over the business from his father, Bill Allen, about 25 years ago and said some of the changes started taking place at the store a little more than a year ago. He said the changes include a new look and new merchandise.
The store now has Aspen tree trunks from floor to ceiling in its clothing racks as well as decorating other areas of the store. Allen’s has started carrying new clothing lines, including Dakota Grizzly, O’Neill, Ripzone, Loki, Bula and Under Armour. And a new front door was installed that will allow the store feel more open during summer. Kris said some reorganization also has opened up the store.
Tod said when a business has been around as long as Allen’s, it has to change. The store has evolved from selling only men’s clothing to one that, as Kris puts it, has a “department store feel” with everything from sports clothes to tuxedos.
Bringing in a younger perspective has helped the store remain competitive in a down economy, Tod said.
“It’s showing up in the bottom line,” he said. “Obviously, if there is a younger generation in the store, it has to go younger again, and that’s the direction he’s taking us. Business is definitely better, improving, and it’s been great, actually.”
Kris said that because of the Steamboat lifestyle, the store carries “pretty much everything.” But he said it’s necessary to continue meeting the needs of its customers, which have been loyal to Allen’s throughout its 62 years.
“We’re working on bringing people in,” Kris said. “I think there are a lot of people shopping online and at big-box stores. We’re trying to show them you still can shop locally without breaking the wallet.”
Allen’s customers gave Kris a warm welcome Tuesday as they entered the store, surprised to see a familiar face. They asked if he was back full time.
Steamboat resident Lissa Hostetler, whose son went to high school with Kris, said it was nice to see him back in the store.
“I think it’s awesome (for him) to carry on the family tradition and keep a small business in town,” she said.
Tod said he was thrilled that the youngest of his three children wanted to get more involved in the family business to eventually take it over, and he said it’s been a lot of fun having Kris back full time.
“It is great,” Tod said. “It’s nice to be your own boss and carry on a tradition of the store,” he said. “It’s just great to be able to be in Steamboat and make a living, live here and raise a family.”
To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com