There was a time when shoppers went to downtown Maryville to buy clothing. Stores like Mosiers, Parks-Belk, Proffitt’s and Mintons were popular destinations.
Bill Womac remembers those days. Now he wants to bring shoppers back to downtown Maryville to buy quality clothing.
Womac, his wife, Marti, and their daughter Emily are opening a new high-end clothing shop at 227 West Broadway Avenue in the former Ham and Goodies restaurant building. The shop is across the street from McCammon Ammons Click Funeral Home. They hope to open Boyd Thomas Clothing in early December in time for holiday shopping.
The family says they want to bring “quality, timeless” apparel for men and women to Maryville. “We’ve shopped the markets in New York and Soho and have a lot of the brands Nordstrom, one of the most exclusive department stores in the country, carries,” Bill Womac said.
Womac knows a thing or two about men’s clothing. The Blount County native started with Arrow Shirt Co. in 1970. He spent 10 years with the company, spent 10 years with Tommy Bahama and then worked with the Indigo Palms line for seven years. His job took him all over the Southeast, and he lived for a time in Greensboro, Nashville and Lexington, Ky. Womac saw the opportunity growing in Maryville as the downtown area has added residential, new businesses and restaurants.
“I thought, if I don’t do this, someone else will. It’s my hometown,” he said. “It will be harder than my old job, but I’ll be at home.”
The chance to be closer to his 92-year-old mother, Miriam Womac, also appealed to Bill. The name of the store is taken from Bill’s mother’s maiden name and his grandfather’s name.
“The theme of the store is built around a picture of mom and dad,” said Womac. “Dad was in the Navy. They were sitting on the hood of an old car with these wonderful smiles. It was in July of 1945.”
Womac’s late father, Charles Womac, was a pharmacist with the U.S. Navy and was based in Chicago. He later returned to Maryville and owned Lowe’s Drug Store.
Womac said his mother was glad to see him opening the store. “She is glad to have me home. I was traveling two or three weeks at a time,” he said.
The building on West Broadway Avenue was very appealing to Womac. “It’s a great location, and I wanted to be part of the downtown revitalization,” he said.
New businesses opening in downtown are making it more appealing to residents. “Everyday you look downtown, and there’s another reason not to have to drive to Knoxville,” Womac said.
Womac said customers should expect a high level of service and quality merchandise at Boyd Thomas. “Those are the goals were striving for: Quality apparel, friendly service and absolute satisfaction,” he said.
The 2,000 square foot of space they’ve leased will hold about 60 percent women’s clothing and 40 percent men’s clothing. The building has been closed for about 10 years, and the new tenants said there was quite a bit of work to be done. Workers cleaned up the grease, dirt and grime, a plumbing and electrician worked in the building and Womac hired a handyman who has been with him throughout the renovations.
The clothing store is a dream of Womac’s. “I think I’ve been working on this for 30 years. I had folders and stacks of pictures, ideas and a book of ‘what ifs’ if I ever got to open a store,” he said.
Throughout his career he visited stores all over the world to see how they presented merchandise. “I always enjoyed seeing new stores, just trying to see what I could come up with to make the shopping experience a little more enjoyable,” he said.
The look inside the new store is a mix of special pieces they have found.
“A lot of the fixtures came out of an old upholstery shop in Italy,” he said. “I’ve got pub tables out of England, and I’m going to use some unique carpeting.”
From the time they leased the building to when they plan to open the week after Thanksgiving, the family and their friends will have taken about six to eight weeks to completely transform the former restaurant into a clothing store.
“It’s been a very enjoyable experience, a labor of love,” Womac said.
Womac said his daughter Emily will help bring a younger perspective to the merchandise they offer, and his wife, Marti, will add her expertise as well and work at the store. “It’s a family business in all senses of the word,” he said.
“Marti has been a department store buyer for many years. She was with Cain-Sloan in Nashville, Millers in Knoxville and Watson’s in Knoxville,” he said. “She helped develop the gift shop at Blackberry Farm.”
Marti Womac was painting displays in store when she talked about the new venture. “It’s real exciting, and it’s his baby,” she said, nodding toward her husband. “He’s art, and I’m science. He comes up with dreams and ideas, and I help put them into action.”
Marti Womac said she was initially concerned about whether or not this was the right time to open a high-end clothing store in Maryville. She said she realized it was going to happen eventually. “Somebody’s going to do it sooner or later, and we wanted to be the first to do it,” she said.
For more information, call 865-982-8756.