FREDERICTON – The maker of the “world’s most dangerous dress shirt” is moving into a new headquarters next year that will have a downtown street-level retail space.
Jeff Alpaugh Custom, a company that makes bold, custom-made dress shirts and suits, has purchased its own commercial space on the corner of York and Victoria Street in downtown Fredericton. The company has previously been base on Queen Street downtown, above the Issac’s Way restaurant.
Founder Jeff Alpaugh says the opportunity to purchase the building came out of the blue.
“A friend who’s a real estate agent called me up and he was like, ‘Hey Jeff, I know you’re not in the market to buy a building right now, but I really think you should check this building out,’ ” says Alpaugh.
Though they loved their space above Issac’s Way, when they checked out the small commercial building, Alpaugh knew they had to make the move.
“Within about five minutes I was like, ‘Ok, we’re going to buy this building. This is what needs to happen,’ ” he says.
“It’s probably the smallest commercial building in Fredericton. Which is cool, because any other building would be way out of our budget. This is a tiny building that a startup that’s having a bit of success can afford.”
Alpaugh says the new spaces will not only give them more visibility and room to work and display product, but will also make it easier for customers coming in for fittings, particularly for bigger groups like wedding parties.
“Even if it’s just four or five people driving separate cars, parking where we were was becoming a bit of an issue. We wanted to be in a place where people don’t need to check the meter every two seconds or feel stressed,” he says. “When people come in, they are sitting down on the couch, they’re having a beer, coffee or water. We want them pretty relaxed.”
The new location is expected to be open by Jan. 15, with a grand opening event taking place sometime in February.
It’s been a big year both professionally and personally for Alpaugh. He married his long-time girlfriend and business partner, Emilee, and they are expecting their first child in March. On the business side, he got to attend the G20 Entrepreneurship Summit; hired their first full-time employee; and expanded into suits.
Looking forward into 2019, Alpaugh says the company will be getting into making custom denim.
“We have two different customers I find. We have people who are very formal and they want the suits and the overcoats,” he says. “Then we have other people who want custom, but they want a lot less formal.”
They plan to open a second store later in the year. They haven’t selected a city yet, but they are seriously considering Waterloo, Ontario. The company gets a lot of orders from there because both Alpaugh and Emilee have strong networks after going to school there.
Alpaugh also says there’s generally a good market in the city for their clothing. Waterloo is often considered to be the entrepreneurship/startup capital of Canada.
“They have all these cyber and tech companies where people wear jeans and a dress shirt to work, and that’s as dressed up as they’re getting,” says Alpaugh. “They’re all sort of rebels and rogues and Steve Jobs-esque creators and they won’t be caught dead in a suit.”