Photos Andy Calvert
In his own words, Hal Richards does it all. As owner and operator of The Lodge, an upscale menswear store in downtown Rome, he stays up-to-date on trends, chooses and buys all of his merchandise, helps customers, makes deliveries, and cleans the store. With 40 years in the clothing industry under his belt, he has seen the industry and his role in it evolve in many ways.
This year provided its own set of challenges. Because of the pandemic, Richards says, business was off by about 50 percent through June. “If you can’t go anywhere, you don’t really need to dress up,” he says. “I do have some very good customers that supported me through that, that just came and shopped.”
When business started to take a downward turn, Richards says he canceled a lot of merchandise and shortened his store hours. He says business got better through July and August, and though there’s still a lot of uncertainty, he’s still moving forward. “I’ve got plenty of merchandise and I’m here doing what I do, so we’ll see how it all plays out,” he says.
Despite anxiety caused by the pandemic, Richards says his customers feel safe coming to The Lodge, which is a fairly socially distant atmosphere anyway. “I’m a destination,” he says. “I rarely have walk-ins. People come to see me because they know me and they’re looking for something.”
A Lifestyle Store
If customers are looking for high-quality clothing and accessories curated by a man with an eye for the latest trends, they are sure to find them at The Lodge. “When I came up with the name ‘The Lodge,’ it was sort of like a hunting lodge, a country house for the guys who were out hunting, fishing, traveling,” he says. “The lines that I carry are conducive to that.” Barbour English field coats, Filson luggage, and cashmere scarves from Johnstons of Elgin in Scotland line the store, whose wood and leather accents evoke a sense of this lifestyle to which Richards caters.
Richards draws inspiration from near and far, including a few pieces in the store that are more unusual, such as hats handmade by a man in Cedartown or unique loafers cut from Turkish rugs. “I traveled a lot to go and bring unique things back to the store,” he says.
The Lodge also does custom sport coats and suits; a customer can choose a fabric and Richards creates a pattern based on the customer’s individual measurements and specifications. As the owner of a small business, Richards believes in going above and beyond for his customers. He offers free tailoring, gift wrapping and delivery on items from the store. It is these aspects of the business that he says make the difference to customers.
“A lot of people are getting more and more comfortable buying clothing online,” he says. “But I think there always will be a customer that will desire the help and the personal attention, let alone getting the fit right and coordinating the pieces.”
Richards enjoys his work, and ultimately he says this is what keeps him successful. “With a little pun intended,” he chuckles, “This suits me.”