Business, Featured, Local News

Rutland menswear store undergoes renovation

By Victoria Gaither
Jim and John McNeil work together to start pulling down lights and panels in the storefront window

McNeil and Reedy celebrates 65 years in downtown with a new look

By Victoria Gaither and Brooke Geery

A major renovation project is underway at McNeil & Reedy men’s clothing and shoe store in downtown Rutland. The store, which has been a go-to for proms, weddings, and funerals since 1956, is benefitting from new blood and hidden historic charm, in celebration of its 65th year in business.

Old tin ceilings are being re-exposed  after being covered with dropped ceilings in the 80s — but to get to them is quite an undertaking.

Owners and twin brothers Jim and John McNeil have already taken down the storefront window lights that highlight the mannequins.

“The lights are going because above it is an original tin ceiling,” John explained. “We always knew it was there, but my nephew Casey came up with the idea to expose it and renovate.”

By Victoria Gaither
Casey McNeil holds skis he purchased at a garage sale as a conversation starter for the winter window display.

As a kid, Casey McNeil shined shoes and did all sorts of chores at the store. So it’s only natural he is involved. Casey is also the brains behind the new window display with a winter ski theme.

“I saw old skis at a garage sale and figured it would be a good conversation starter, being we are close to Killington and Pico,” Casey said.

Casey’s father, Jim, and uncle John loved the idea. Season after season, the twin brothers still enjoy changing the window display. “If the window display is nice, then people will come in,” John reasoned.

Those window displays will also benefit from the remodel. They’ve already removed nine boarded up windows in the front of the store and are replacing the broken glass underneath. The windows now go up another several feet in the front of the store.  And the McNeils have started taking down the dropped ceiling.  As of press time the project is about halfway done. The goal is to have it completed by the beginning of March. In some ways, Covid-19 was an opportunity to really dive into the renovation, but it also has presented real challenges as the store remains open.

“We serve the community in tough times and good. We are here,” Jim said.

Casey added, “We’ve been open since the governor allowed us to be back open. We wanted to take this time to do the renovations because it is a little bit slower. As things ramp up to the spring with weddings and stuff coming back we want to be ready for that.”

By Victoria Gaither
Casey McNeil pointing to the original tin ceiling underneath dropped ceiling panels installed in the 80s.

For those who do need formal wear, it’s a great time to buy, Casey continued.“We have a winter construction sale going to get people in the store because if you drive by it might look like we’re closed. Everything is on sale until spring,” he said.

Depending on pandemic regulations, the McNeils are hoping to have a reopening celebration. In addition to the new look, they’ve been working to bring in new items, especially those from local Vermont vendors.

But for now, still deep in the  renovation, Jim smiled and said, “We expect this whole room to look different; it’s exciting.”

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