Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

STEPPING INTO NEW SHOES ; Youngs Gets Fresh Look; West Side Department Store Has Modern, Big- City Feel

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

STEPPING INTO NEW SHOES ; Youngs Gets Fresh Look; West Side Department Store Has Modern, Big- City Feel

Article excerpt

On Charleston's West Side, Young's Department Store is a sign of life among a row of mostly abandoned store fronts. "This is a good positive thing for the West Side, considering usually it's all bad, said Jim Oatridge, the store's owner. "This is one bright note.

Oatridge's store isn't joining the row of its boarded up neighbors; instead, it's getting a makeover.

Led by architect David Marshall and contractors J.S. Breeden Builders, a crew began work on the clothing store beginning Jan. 2.

To date, the construction is mostly done, except for a few finishing touches.

"We tore everything out to the bare walls, Oatridge said, pointing to improvements throughout a completely remodeled store. "Everyone that comes in here is blown away.

Shelves line a black wall, displaying shoes bathed in colorful LED lights that can be remote-controlled to keep tempo with the store's music. Extra stock is kept in one-of-a-kind wooden boxes made to resemble oversized shoeboxes, giant Air Jordan bar code sticker and all. A graffiti-style mural featuring Charleston's Capitol dome lines the ceiling, doubling as a shelter for the old building's wiring.

Brian Ray has been working for department store for the past 12 years. He said the change in the store is like "night and day.

"For employees, I think that before, it was kind of cold, Ray, a store manager, said. "Even though it's dark now, it's so much more modern. And I think it puts employees in a better mood because it's a much more enjoyable environment.

Ray said customers have been blown away with the remodel.

"We have a lot of customers that come from out of town, you know, college kids that are from bigger cities that come here and go to school, Ray said. "And most reactions are that they feel like they're in New York, that they're experiencing a store that they would see in a much bigger city. …

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