Steve and Barry’s: Beyond all Expectations

Natalie and I celebrated the 4th of July up in Coloma Michigan on Paw Paw Lake. It's an (almost) annual tradition that includes a sunset boat ride that leads to 360-degree fireworks. Pretty sweet. Yesterday, on our way to Meijer to pick up some supplies (meat, beer, etc), we saw a new Steve and Barry's store had opened in Benton Harbor. Natalie immediately noted that we NEED to stop there because the new Sarah Jessica Parker line of clothes is only sold there. I told her that we used to have a Steve and Barry's on campus in Champaign and they were the store that sold "Buy one Illini t-shirt, get 2 free". Times had changed, she said. They've apparently expanded their offerings immensly. Their strategy seems to be one of filling up the space of older midsize boxes in commercial areas. Think of the space that JCPenny's would occupy. Or Sears.

We pulled in and boy, was I surprised. I'm definitely no clothes horse, as anyone who works with me can attest to, but this place stunned me. They still had a ton of college sports-related t-shirts, but they had soooo much more. In addition to the SJP Bitten line, they had the Starbury's. For those of you who don't know, Starbury's are the sneakers from Stephon Marbury and Ben Wallace that retail for less than 15 bucks! I almost bought a pair just because I like the concept. natalie talked me out of it. There's a whole line of affordable "cool" clothes that go along with the sneakers. The SJP Bitten line follows the same tone. The tag line is: Your sweater shouldn't cost more than your groceries. Natalie picked out a few things and I went nuts. I bought shirts, shorts, jackets, and more shirts. I came home with polo-like shirts, short sleeve button downs (Nat calls them "nerd shirts", a few Illini products and more. They've somewhat clung to their roots with all the college t's, sweatshirts, and jackets.

For folks who hate the Old Navy experience, Steve and Barry's isn't for you. I'm a Patagonia snob, so I can appreciate quality pieces, but this place scratches me where I itch. If you spot one near you, I'd recommend stopping in.

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