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Third-generation entrepreneur opens downtown clothing store

Slate offers contemporary high-end men’s casual wear aimed at 25- to 35-year-old shoppers.

February 3, 2017
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Stacy Mulder’s entrepreneurial eye spotted a need for a casual menswear store, so she set about securing a downtown location that caters to younger men. Courtesy Slate

Stacy Mulder used to walk around her downtown neighborhood and wonder where all of the young men strolling past were buying their clothes.

She saw plenty of formal wear and suit shops, but no casual menswear stores.

“There are tons of women’s stores in the area already, but there wasn’t a store that specifically targeted the 25- to 35-year-old male,” she said. “I saw a gap and decided to fill it.”

Mulder opened Slate, a men’s clothing and accessories store at 44 Ionia Ave. SW, Suite 2, on Dec. 3.

The store offers a range of higher-end casual brands, such as Life After Denim, J. Lindeberg, Culturata and Zadig & Voltaire.

A former Kendall College of Art and Design student, Mulder spent some time at Grand Valley State University and also attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles.

While she was drawn to fashion and design, Mulder said she ultimately decided “real school” wasn’t in the cards for her.

So, she turned toward the school of life. Following in her father and grandfather’s footsteps, Mulder began brainstorming ideas for an entrepreneurial fresh start.

“We have a family history of entrepreneurship,” Mulder said. “My grandpa, Ron DeYoung, owned a grocery store called Great Day on Lake Michigan Drive that’s now a Family Fare. And my dad (Brian Mulder) was a Snap Fitness franchisee.

“Those things kind of paved the way for me.”

Mulder began investigating storefront rental possibilities last spring. In August, she signed the lease for the space at 44 Ionia Ave. SW, owned by the nonprofit Dwelling Place. By Nov. 14, the redesigned space was ready for the store’s soft opening.

Keith and Kirsten Potter, of Grand Rapids-based Keith Potter Builder, did the storefront’s build-out.

“I described what I was interested in and they came up with all of this, the beautiful wood counter, the layout of the store, the displays, everything,” Mulder said.

The furniture was sourced from Dwellings in Grandville, owned by Laura Davidson, where Mulder used to work.

Mulder said she was “fortunate” to find the vacancy at 44 Ionia.

“It’s a busy area,” she said. “I figure that a lot of guys frequent this area because of Van Andel and the sporting events, HopCat and Grand Rapids Brewing Co., so it was a perfect spot.

“With the big movie theater moving in across the street, we’re hoping more retail comes into the area. Hopefully, there will be a drive for more progressive fashion to come into the area.”

Slate has three employees in addition to Mulder. One of her employees, Zach Trisel, said he thinks the store works because it fits a niche but also has a broader appeal beyond that niche.

“The age that it impacts people is very broad, even though it’s aimed at 25- to 35-year-olds,” he said.

“We have something for everyone,” Mulder added. “My dad shops here.”

Mulder chose the name “Slate” for the store because she thought it “sounds clean and strong and it really seems to fit menswear.”

So far, traffic at the store has been steady and was especially good during the holidays, Mulder said. Eventually, she and her team plan to host events at the store.

“We would love to start hosting sip-and-shop events,” she said. “Say Zach’s group of friends is having a party, and they need a place to host it. Everyone in the party would receive a 15 percent discount, and we would provide hors d’oeuvres, then they would have a night of shopping.”

Slate does not yet have a website, but Mulder said more information about the store can be found on its Facebook page, Slate Clothing, and Instagram account, @slateclothing_gr.

Store hours are 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. 

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