HYDE PARK — Dearborn Denim is launching its first retail location in Hyde Park on May 19.
Founder Robert McMillan said Friday that the East Garfield Park jeans manufacturer is growing fast since sales started in September and is looking for ways to reach new customers.
“You can come to the factory, but it’s a factory,” McMillan said. “I have a makeshift dressing room.”
The new store at 1504 E. 53rd St. will be more polished than the factory, which itself draws 150 visitors for monthly tours, according to McMillan.
McMillan was at the freshly painted storefront Friday building the racks that will hold the jeans, which boast designer quality for $65 by keeping manufacturing local and cutting out the middle man.
He said the company is selling about 1,500 pairs of jeans just through the online store with limited marketing, and the company is already profitable a little more than a year.
McMillan said he hopes the retail store helps get more people interested who don’t default to buying online.
“A lot of people have trouble finding a pair that fits right,” McMillan said. “You want to try them on before you buy.”
He said the University of Chicago approached him about opening a retail store in Hyde Park and he said the university sold him on the idea.
“It just seemed like a good opportunity down here,” said McMillan, who lives in the South Loop.
Dearborn Denim has signed a two-year lease on the storefront, which has been home to pop-ups and temporary retail stores since the university bought the building.
“It’s a permanent space now,” McMillan said.
James Hennessey, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the university, said the university is honored to have Dearborn Denim in Hyde Park.
“Dearborn Denim and Apparel offers a unique concept that can become a destination for shoppers from Hyde Park as well as throughout the city,” Hennessy said. “This is truly a ‘shop small, shop local’ business, and we’re honored to have their flagship location in Hyde Park.”
Dearborn Denim's name and logo are both proud markers of the product's local source. [DNAinfo/Alex Nitkin]