By Melody Birkett
Utah-based Mr. Mac opened its first clothing store outside the state in Gilbert recently. The store sells high-end merchandise, caters to missionaries.
Mac Christiansen opened his inaugural store over 50 years ago.
“He wanted to find a way to bring better-quality suits at a lower price to people,” said Chris Brooks, Mr. Mac’s Gilbert store manager.
Brooks said it’s also a one-stop shop to outfit missionaries, and those sales consist of about 35 percent of the business.
However, the store appeals to a wide clientele and some of its offerings, such as $80 shirts, may not be a typical buy of young missionaries, he noted.
“We’ve helped pastors, we’ve helped businessmen, we’ve helped judges,” Brooks said. “It’s tough because especially in Utah, there’s that mantra, ‘Oh, we don’t want to go buy a wedding suit at Mr. Mac because they’re a missionary store’ but we have more slim-fit suits and stylish suits in our inventory then we do missionary suits.
“We have real high-end stuff. We sell suits that are ranging from $500 to $800,” he added. “So, we can really fit anybody. If you’re a young man, all the way up to a grandpa, we’re selling suits.”
The menswear includes sport coats and formal wear for men and boys along with LDS white temple clothing.
Mr. Mac also sells items you typically don’t find in other men’s clothing stores, such as the two-pant suit.
“The nice thing is, if you’re a businessman and you’re wearing your suit a lot, you can travel with that suit and rotate those pants,” he explained. “Typically, if you ask any guy, his trousers wear out before his coat does.”
While white shirts are popular among the LDS community, Brooks said a lot of men like them because they go with most anything. The store does sell shirts in other colors, mainly in long sleeves, and a tailor is on hand to shorten sleeves upon request or do other alterations.
The alteration service is free and comes with the purchase of a suit for a lifetime.
“You gain some weight, you lose some weight, we alter. All we ask is you get it dry-cleaned,” he said.
Typically, customers should be able to find the right size without having the suit altered.
“We carry all the way up to a size 64 long and then we carry up to 22 neck in a shirt,” Brooks said. “We can fit you. Between alterations and the sizes we carry, we’re pretty confident we can fit anyone.”
Mr. Mac also sells suits for hundreds of dollars lower than other places.
“As part of our customer service, the other big thing for us is the ability to bring in quality at a lower price just because of our reputation and how often we go to these trade shows. We’ve developed a very good relationship with the vendors,” Brooks said.
While polyester is less expensive, he recommends suits with a wool blend since it’s breathable. Most high-end suits the store carries are 100 percent Merino wool, long lasting and of good quality.
“Wool is your friend and as long as it’s a Merino wool, it’s going to breath,” Brooks said.
Selling suits is a specialized profession and takes training. Sales staff get trained in the Orem location, where its “suit doctor” has been training staff for 30 years.
They note it can be rewarding. “You’re basically hitting keynotes in people’s lives when you sell them a suit,” Evans said. “So you develop a friendship with them. You get to see them grow.”
How about washable ties? Mr. Mac carries them in microfiber polyester.
“If you spill on it or you get a stain, you can actually take water to it or, if you need to, you can actually throw it in the washer or dryer,” Brooks said, adding many women buy them for their sons or husband.
Mac Christensen opened his first store in Bountiful, Utah in 1966 following his experience working for a large department store in Salt Lake City. He realized that customers had to shuffle from one department to another to buy clothing, and also that quality should be the first consideration and price the second.
Christensen’s store served the customer his way: one-stop shopping for missionaries and men’s wear.
During the last 40 years, Mr. Mac has grown to nine locations in his home state, and the founder has built a reputation as a recognized and trusted source for men’s suits and clothing in the region.
Among other popular items at Mr Mac is the mission belt, a belt without holes that has slidable notches.
Assistant Manager Neil Evans said no man should be without one.
“How can you not have a mission belt? It’s the one product I would say every gentleman goes crazy over,” he said. “The mission belt doesn’t have any holes in it. It has teeth that locks into place and you can also cut it to size.”
Mr. Mac does not sell LDS undergarments but stocks pretty much everything else, from socks, shoes and belts to luggage.
Unless you already know Mr. Mac caters to the LDS community, Brooks said most people don’t know the affiliation when they walk in. “We’ve had people think we’re a burger shop, we’ve had people think we sell laptops, so we’re trying to do a better job of getting our name out there as far as what we do.”
The company prides itself on its customer service.
“When you walk in, we really want you to not feel bombarded by a salesperson, but more of a consultant,” Brooks said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mac also plans to be a part of the neighborhoods they serve.
“We want to be part of the community,” Brooks said. “It’s not about coming down here and making a quick buck. We’re here to stay and we really want to develop roots.”