In 1939, Mitchell’s Clothing in downtown Greensboro first opened its doors. John Mitchell says when he was 12 years old he would work there after school with his father and uncle. At the time, Mitchell’s sold mostly work clothes and other clothing. Today, Mitchell looks back to when he took over the store that has outfitted generations of Greensboro.

“You’ve got to give a customer personal satisfaction and that’s what we give them—what they want—and we wait on them.”

John Mitchell, owner of Mitchell’s Clothing

“In 1962, I bought my father out and converted the store. I went into high fashion,” said Mitchell.

In the 60s, Mitchell’s Clothing began to take risks and sell the latest trends. Mitchell swears he sold the very first pair of bell bottoms in Greensboro.

“We took a risk on bell bottoms when they first came out,” he said. “I asked my wife, ‘Are you willing to gamble?’ And she said yes and we went into high style. We would hem the bell bottoms right on the spot.”

The bell bottoms were a success. Soon after came platform shoes, leisure suits and the Tom Jones shirt.

Today at 90 years old, Mitchell still works six days a week and enjoys the banter and salesmanship with his customers, helping them find the right suit, dress shirt, tie, Stacy Adams shoes and hats.

Mitchell’s is known for their variety of name brand hats. People come from throughout the east coast to purchase Stetson and Kangol brands.

“We have people come from all over. . .They come from Pennsylvania, Baltimore, and Roanoke, Virginia … New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, Charleston…” Mitchell said.

“You’ve got to give a customer personal satisfaction and that’s what we give them—what they want—and we wait on them.”

But John Mitchell concedes that outfitting Greensboro and watching it change and grow has gone by in the blink of an eye.

“You don’t realize when you get to be 90 years old. And you start looking back, it seems like a dream…see, because time passes so fast…and you wake up one day and your 90 years old.”

 


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