Downtown Piqua specialty clothier continues to thrive after 75 years

“We’re really a destination store,” said Bert Harrison, owner of Barclay’s.

Barclay’s, a specialty clothier in downtown Piqua for 75 years, attributes going above and beyond in customer service, making changes when needed and staying true to their roots as the secrets of its success.

“My father and grandfather based the business on selling quality merchandise at a reasonable price and at the same time offering great service,” said third-generation owner Bert Harrison. “That’s what we still do.”

Harrison, who has owned the business for 38 years, said his late grandfather, Issac, opened the store in 1947 in the 400 block of N. Main Street. He explained his grandfather had a store in Cincinnati, but wanted to find a small town where he could retire and still work in the clothing industry. He found Barclay’s when it had been in business for less than year. At that time, Harrison said there were six or seven men’s stores in downtown Piqua.

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

In 1965, the Harrison family moved Barclay’s to 318 N. Main Street, and in 1984, Harrison’s father, Stanley, renovated Murphy’s five-and-dime store next door and relocated there.

“I remember walking over here,” Harrison said. “My dad would give me 25 cents and say go buy a bag of chocolate covered peanuts. When you walked in the front doors there would be a huge candy counter and they were making popcorn. You could smell it when you walked in the doors.”

Harrison said his late father had planned to go to law school but came back home to help Harrison’s grandfather for a summer at the store. He said he decided to take a one-year deferment and ended up staying.

Harrison said he ended up back at the family’s store after working in the retail banking industry. He said the industry was changing at the time his father was ready to retire.

When he came back to the store in 1985 after another expansion, he said his grandfather was still with them.

“It made a huge difference for me to let him know that the legacy will be passed on,” Harrison said.

Fast forward years later, Harrison noted Barclay’s is the only specialty clothier in the Dayton area.

“When I started here there were at least 40 men’s specialty stores of our kind from Lima all the way through Dayton,” Harrison said. “They’re all gone.”

From continuing to carry a selection of U.S. made garments to not being a self-serve store, Barclay’s stands out in the retail sector.

“Our clothing is going to last,” said Harrison’s wife, Terri. “It’s made well. We have relationships with our manufacturers and our suppliers so that we know where they’re sourcing the fabrics from and the trims. We know they’re visiting the factories and the employees that are making our garments are compensated fairly.”

Barclay’s has a variety of brands and price points for suits, shoes, dress shirts, ties and sportwear. Popular brands of sportswear include Peter Millar, Tommy Bahama and Johnnie-O. The store also carries women’s clothing.

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

Harrison recalled a conversation he had with his father and two longtime employees when he came back in 1985. He said they were discussing getting rid of certain clothing lines and finding replacements that still offered high quality. He remembers his father not being afraid to change and that’s why he thinks the store has been successful.

“My dad was always a firm believer, and I too, that you have to be willing to take that chance,” Harrison said.

Barclay’s busiest times of the year are typically spring and fall in addition to the holiday season. Ever since the coronavirus pandemic, Harrison noted business has been “unbelievable.”

“I think people are realizing how important specialty stores are,” Harrison said. “There are still people out there that truly believe in people helping them and I think that will go on.”

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

He explained over 90 percent of the people that walk through their doors come to make a purchase. Many are generational, he added.

“We’re really a destination store,” Harrison said. “Today our traffic draws from a good 50-mile radius.”

Barclay’s also offers an alteration department that includes free first time alterations when purchasing a suit.

Terri has noticed an uptick in people wanting to dress up and accessorize. Saturdays are particularly popular for young people.

“The younger generation is dressing up,” Terri said. “They may be working from home, but they want something nice to go out in.”

The couple said their favorite aspect of owning the store stems from being a part of people’s lives and provide quality clothing.

“I like working with the people I have here,” Harrison said. “I like working with the community here and knowing I’m an integral part and that what we offer here spreads outside the community.”

To celebrate 75 years, the store has introduced a specialty cologne. There are also plans to do a few giveaways before the store turns 76 in August.

Barclay’s is located at 314 N. Main St. For more information, visit or the store’s Facebook page.

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