Sawgrass Village, a shopping center on A1A in Ponte Vedra, has been seeing major upgrades since Jacksonville-based planning, architecture and landscape firm, ELM, began a project to revamp the property in early 2015. In addition to keeping many of the well-loved local retailers who have inhabited the stores of Sawgrass Village for years, there are new restaurants and retailers coming to the area. One of these is Winter Park-based men’s clothier John Craig Clothier. John Craig Clothier will open its doors to the public tomorrow, on March 18.
“We couldn’t be more excited to expand our presence in the Jacksonville area,” said company owner Craig DeLongy.
The shop is no stranger to Ponte Vedra, and in addition to personal ties, DeLongy has had a shop at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club for almost three years. The location was their fifth, while the Sawgrass Village store will mark their ninth location. John Craig Clothier also has locations in Jupiter, Naples, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Bonita Springs and Winter Park.
We sat down with DeLongy this week to talk about what it’s like to operate nine locations and what locals can expect from the new store.
What is your connection to Ponte Vedra?
My wife, Suzanne, began coming to the Ponte Vedra Inn when she was a little girl. To continue the tradition we have been bringing our children here for more than 30 years. Our son liked the area so much he attended UNF and played on the golf team.
What makes John Craig a good fit for the area?
May 2013 we opened at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club. We were very successful there with the members and resort guests. We offer a Florida lifestyle look in all of our stores. We also interject a sophisticated, sartorial look as well. If we do anything well, we show men how to dress to match their lifestyle.
What is a typical day like for you?
First of all no day is typical when you have nine stores! I have an old 1920s apartment as my office above our store in Winter Park. There with my Border Collie, Harper, we begin our day by checking sales at all eight stores for the previous day. Week and month to date. From there the list gets long. Respond to e-mails, place orders, communicate with the stores. My daughter Blair is Vice President of Operations and handles marketing, social media and selected buying. Blair is based at our location in the Ritz-Carlton Naples. We speak multiple times a day but no business calls or text messages are allowed after 7:30 p.m. — her rules.
How do you evaluate whether or not a brand will be sold at the store?
I turn down brands consistently because they do not fit into our store image. When traveling to market, I look for everything from high end Italian vendors to more casual lifestyle looks. In particular I look at quality, brand recognition, sizing and how it will merchandise in with our mix. Although not a major problem, since we are the dominant distribution for most vendors, I see what other retailers carry the product. In any case, every store gets its own mix based upon clientele and location in the state. For example buying for Winter Park and Ponte Vedra Beach would be similar, while Jupiter and Naples would be similar.
What are you looking forward to in this location?
The “new” Sawgrass Village is going to be the exciting epicenter of Ponte Vedra Beach. We are looking forward to being more accessible to the Ponte Vedra community now that we are in Sawgrass Village. Also, from the feedback we received at our location in PVI, I know there is a market for us here. Our extensive inventory will be a big change for shoppers to see in this area.
We look forward with the ambience of the new store and the selection of clothing and sportswear to becoming the place for men to shop in Ponte Vedra Beach.
John Craig Clothier will be open seven days a week. For more, visit www.johncraigclothier.com.