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Pursuit

'Pop-up' suit store wasn't supposed to last long, but it may be here to stay

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CHRIS PARKER/THISWEEKNEWS
Jeremy Johnston and Alexa Pohle browse in the Pursuit Men's Store at 1572 N. High St.
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A pop-up store has become so popular, it's not going to pop off anytime soon.

Northwest Side resident Nate DeMars is the owner of a thriving business in the South Campus Gateway area called Pursuit, which sells age-appropriate business attire for young men they'll look right at job interviews and in career fairs.

It wasn't supposed to be that way.

Pursuit was supposed to run its course with the "finite amount of guys on campus" at Ohio State University and then move on to other Ohio cities with major universities, such as Oxford and Athens, DeMars said.

"Also we started as a pop-up store because I didn't know anything about the industry," he admitted.

Only a funny thing happened on the way to Pursuit being a passing thing. People didn't pass by.

They stopped in and shopped. And bought. And not just college students, but also young professionals "who want more personal service," DeMars said.

"It hasn't made sense to leave the Ohio State location, and that's the hope with a lot of pop-up stores," he added.

"I don't want to turn the faucet off and start from scratch somewhere else.

"We're at the stage now where, to call it a pop-up store, I would say we're really stretching the definition of that."

He does intend to take Pursuit, purely as pop-up retail, to Ohio University in a couple of weeks, finding a location for the store during the day and then hitting some fraternity houses in the evening.

DeMars, 29, is originally from northern Wisconsin. He majored in marketing as an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and got a job with Whirlpool after graduating. He was assigned to Columbus in 2005.

Eventually he decided to take advantage of his new location and chose to pursue a master's degree in business administration at OSU's Fisher College of Business.

"That's where the whole concept of Pursuit came unexpectedly, out of an entrepreneurship class at I took the second year of the MBA program," DeMars said.

A class idea became a project, became a business plan, became a business, which DeMars has been working on ever since graduating in June 2011.

The basic concept of Pursuit, from the outset to today, according to the owner, is that younger men, particularly college students, need suits on occasion, but not the ones available at most men's clothing stores and in the men's sections of department stores.

These young men require retail options "that cater to their unique needs," according to DeMars, but not in some boutique setting with high prices.

"They were shopping at the same places that their dads or grandpas were buying their suits," he said.

"They were buying suits that their dads or grandpas should wear. The fashion was not really age-appropriate."

In pursuing the concept that became Pursuit, DeMars said he had to educate himself about the men's clothing industry.

"I knew not very much at all about suits or anything like that," he said. "I still don't consider myself to be the most fashionable guy."

It took considerable convincing to get suppliers to accept the concept of Pursuit, but now DeMars said he carries some major labels at the store, 1572 N. High St.

The one drawback to the business model so far, he added, is that some men mistakenly think they have to be college students or around 20 years of age to find something to wear at Pursuit, and that's not the case.

"It's a trick to convey that," DeMars said.

"If you want to buy a good-looking, reasonably priced suit from somebody local in town, we're about the only option in town."

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