ROCKINGHAM — Southern-style apparel will soon be a part of the new Richmond Plaza renovations as Cheraw-based Pee Dee Outfitters joins the lineup.
According to Neil Robinette, CEO of Tri City, Inc., the 4,000 square-foot store will be located between the new Rue21 and where GNC currently sits.
“They get business in Rockingham,” said Robinette. “The timing was good now. They always have a good clientele from Rockingham. We thought it would be an interesting opportunity to pursue.”
Pee Dee Outfitters co-owner Jeff Johnson agreed and together with partner Jeff Faulkner will make the Rockingham store their third — behind Cheraw and Newberry, South Carolina — after officially signing their lease last Monday.
Johnson and Robinette both are hoping for a fall opening, sometime near the end of September or the beginning of October at the latest.
After opening their first store in Cheraw in July 2007 and the second in Newberry last May, the Jeffs decided to have their store take on the name of the local river because it was something they were familiar with, and “We thought it was a cool name.”
“It was because we were familiar,” Johnson said about the name. “We both grew up in North Carolina and both went to high school in Anson County and always grown up with the Pee Dee River either near Rockingham or Cheraw.”
Johnson, who grew up in McFarlan, and Faulkner, raised in Wadesboro, both went to Bowman High School and later worked for B.C. Moore. After the department store went out of business in 2006, Pee Dee Outfitters was born.
Although their endeavor began in South Carolina, they said it was a no-brainer to venture back toward their home state. Already having a good amount of clientele from Rockingham also played into the move.
“Because we get so many people from Rockingham, Hamlet, the Richmond County community, we thought it would be an excellent spot to be a member of the community,” said Johnson. “If you’re shopping with us from Rockingham, it takes about an hour out of your time.”
With their store being well-received from residents of Richmond County already, Johnson said the duo had been looking to make the move north for a few years — they just needed the right opportunity. The $3 million Richmond Plaza renovation and Tri City’s involvement played the biggest parts.
Being a part of the community where their stores are located is also a big part of what Johnson and Faulkner are trying to accomplish.
“One thing we do is we wanna be a community store. Most people we hire will be from that area,” Johnson said. “We try to work with civic organizations and have programs that benefit them. That’s one thing we like about Neil and them. The landlord there, they are part of the community. Sometimes you’ll go into a shopping center and sign your lease, and it’ll go to some other state or something, so we try to work with people from the community. If they choose Pee Dee Outfitters, we wanna award them and be a part of the community.”
Another thing that the store prides itself in, he said, is having up-to-date name brands and employees who are always striving for excellence.
“We offer clothing and footwear for men, women and children. We offer gifts, accessories, we even do Yeti coolers,” said Johnson. “We offer a few hard goods but mainly we’re apparel and footwear. Our thing is we’re pretty much name-brand merchandise all the time. Our two things are we give better pricing, and the other thing we hang our hat on is we have people in the store that are knowledgeable and will wait on you. Customer service has diminished, but that’s something we hang our hat on.”
Robinette and his sister, Tri City marketing and leasing manager Gabrielle Goodwin, both think Pee Dee Outfitters will do well in Richmond County as it is a company that suits small towns while offering popular and affordable Southern wearable wares.
“They have popular things that people like these days,” Goodwin said. “He (Johnson) really caters toward the millennial demographic. He’s always looking for the latest and greatest brands.”
“They find a niche in small towns and try to embrace the community they’re in and hopefully will be here, as well,” Robinette added. “They offer something different that customers can’t find here right now. I think it’ll be well-received. We’re excited to bring them into our lineup here.”
Johnson said his company takes pride in serving its customers with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee assurance with every purchase made. Some of the brand names shoppers can look to save on include Browning, Carhartt, Costa Del Mar, Ducks Unlimited, Fossil, Heybo, Rainbow, Reef, Salt Life, Simply Southern, Toms and Yeti, among many other lines.
While offering competitive prices and supporting local schools, churches and civic organizations in each community a store is located, Pee Dee Outfitters hopes to find that niche Robinette spoke of.
Said Johnson, “We are excited about opening a location in Rockingham and look forward to being a part of the local community.”
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674 and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.