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Retailer Spotlight: At Ease

In our busy world, people value things that are easy. We specifically look for ways to make life a little smoother, easier. It’s the reason we’ve got drive-through car washes and take-and-bake pizza. So when you encounter a store called “At Ease”, it imparts a sense of reassurance that your shopping experience is going to be, well, easy. That’s precisely the way the owners of At Ease, Linda and Ron Beale, want you to feel.

StoreFrontFinal_0012 copyAt Ease has been a family owned business for 46 years. Linda and Ron purchased the store 21 years ago from the original owners, and have been building it into a success story ever since. There are two locations: one in Newport Beach, CA, and one in Scottsdale, AZ that son Don Beale manages. Retail was always something that Linda and Ron enjoyed. Both of them spent many years working together in retail before they purchased the business. Ron was Chairman of the Merchandising Board for Macy’s, and also Sr. VP of California Macy’s Board. Since owning At Ease, they’ve carefully cultivated an offering of both great clothes and great services. “You can say your store is this, or it’s that, but if you don’t have great service—forget it, you really don’t have anything,” Linda shared.

This dedication to stellar service is exactly what makes shopping easy when you visit At Ease. It’s the blending of a well-bought IMG_0012business that caters to its customers. And if you ask Linda what gives them the most satisfaction in their business, she’s quick to turn it around and say it’s their customer’s satisfaction that matters most to them. “Having life-long customers is the best feeling,” said Linda. That’s what makes us the most satisfied.”

Someone who shares their perspective on customer service is Steve Knutson. Linda and Ron brought Steve in to help open the Newport store in 1991, and he has since become a partner. Over the years he’s seen many changes and phenomenal success with the At Ease stores, but the commitment to exemplary customer service has never wavered. “We cater to a clientele that wants value, but also luxury,” Steve tells us. “They want pieces that stand the test of time, like St. Croix items. They seek those high quality items and want to buy what is unique, not what everyone else is wearing.”

The customer service offered in the At Ease stores is what keeps people coming back. They’ve got over 40,000 customers that they’ve cultivated over the years, and there’s a reason why. “We cater to customers,” Steve shared. “We do special orders and really make our customers feel special. They are professionals, and they want professional clothiers helping them.” Ron added that the special touches that At Ease offers is what makes their stores unique. “We offer free gift wrap, free delivery, and same-day tailoring. That really sets us apart! We’ve got a full time master tailor at both stores,” Ron said.

Steve acknowledged that the employees in their stores are instrumental in making the customer service exceptional, many of whom have been with them 25 years. He feels that they do an amazing job—with everything from helping customers in the store to follow through and connecting with the customers outside the store as well—and that it’s a key element to their success in a competitive marketplace.

As for Steve, he finds many things to love in retail. He commented that he loves the interaction with the customers, and their feedback. Customers actually fly into the area just to shop with them. He loves merchandising, and really loves the customer stories they share with him. “Bottom line, I really just love the day to day,” he said. And he’s proud to work in an inviting environment. “Our stores really are beautiful,” said Steve. “Linda designs the stores and she has an incredible eye.”

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Linda is putting her design skills to good use. The Newport store is undergoing a renovation to its 7,000 square feet. “Customers like to see change. They like to see that you are staying up to date and relevant. It lets them know we want to make the shopping experience wonderful for them,” Steve told us.

Making the shopping experience great means having the right kind of product in your stores. Many retailers have favorite items they love to sell, or items they think everyone needs in their wardrobe. For luxury menswear, oftentimes that points toward the classic suit, or maybe the dependable navy blazer. Linda has a more unique take on her favorite items: jeans and outerwear. She feels strongly that every man needs a great pair of jeans. “They’re so versatile,” she says. “Dress them up or down, a great pair of jeans works almost everywhere.” Her other favorite item—outerwear—is fun for her to buy and sell. “There are so many tricks to outerwear. It’s got a lot going on, it’s interesting. The fabric, the bells and whistles—it’s a unique piece of clothing,” shared Linda.

The St. Croix Collection fits well into the At Ease stores. “It’s beautiful, well-made, people like it,” said Linda. “We’re very proud of being successful retailers and we’re proud of our beautiful stores.” Visit the professional and exemplary staff at one of the At Ease stores if you are in Newport Beach, CA (949-759-7979), or Scottsdale, AZ (480-947-3800). We’re sure that you’ll feel at ease when you’re there.