By Karon Warren | Photography courtesy of Brooke Davis
Laurel Mercantile Co. offers a functional and fashionable flannel shirt for the fall.
When the partners of Laurel Mercantile Co. in Laurel decided to add a flannel shirt to their merchandise offerings, they did so with a singular purpose: to fill a hole in the market with a high-quality product.
That means they didn’t just go through the motions to find a shirt and put it out for sale. Instead, they had several considerations to address as they moved through the process – from idea to completed product available for sale.
“We were looking to develop nice, durable workwear that could be worn in the workshop or in the backyard on Saturday or at a meeting somewhere,” says Jim Rasberry, one of the six partners who owns Laurel Mercantile Co. “We design and manufacture products we want and we use, and we feel there’s a hole in the market.”
The remaining partners are Rasberry’s wife, Mallorie, Josh and Emily Nowell, and Ben and Erin Napier, stars of HGTV’s “Home Town” show.
“We worked together on the design,” Rasberry says. “Everybody loves a good-feeling shirt, and we want to provide products you can count on.”
He says the women weighed in on the style, colors, and weight of the fabric, while the men focused on the function of the shirt.
“We wanted it to serve a purpose, but we also wanted something that fit well, a little tapered, that had free range with movement,” Rasberry says. “It wears well whether you’re lounging around or working.”
So, in the fall of 2016, Laurel Mercantile Co. launched the Scotsman Co. Traditional Flannel Button-Down shirt, both in store and online. Available for $74 each, the shirt was branded under Scotsman Co., the store’s flagship brand of Ben’s handmade reclaimed furniture, which now also features American-made heirloom areas, durable home goods, and, of course, workwear.
Made of 100-percent cotton flannel, the Scotsman Co. Traditional Flannel is available in seven different color patterns, all with long sleeve and a button-down collar. For those looking to expand their wardrobe beyond the initial pattern offerings, the group gathers each spring to choose new designs for the fall, so you can expect another set of choices every autumn.
There are no separate men’s and women’s sizes, nor are there any children’s sizes. Instead, all shirts are available in a full range of regular and Big & Tall sizes, from small to a 3XLT (Big & Tall).
Those Big & Tall sizes were inspired by Ben, who is 6-feet-6-inches tall.
“We wanted a shirt that bigger guys can find a good consistent fit,” Rasberry says.
Specifically, he says they didn’t want a shirt where when you raise your arms in the air, you could feel the shirt rise up from where it was tucked into your pants.
The group partnered with a shirt manufacturing company in El Paso, Texas, to create the flannels. Their chosen company has been making shirts since 1964, Rasberry states.
“One of the difference-makers is quality,” he says. “Other competitors outsource to other countries. We made a commitment to quality, to buying a shirt that lasts. They fit good, and they feel good. The fit and finish makes that shirt second to none.”
Of course, in the process of developing that high-quality shirt with a purpose, the partners saw another evolution at Laurel Mercantile Co. and Scotsman Co.
“Our flannels are what made Scotsman Co. a lifestyle brand,” Napier says. “Before designing these shirts, the focus was solely on woodworking. We wanted to design a quality shirt that was made in American that could double as a date night shirt or a work shirt.”
And people are taking notice. Not only is the Scotsman Co. Traditional Flannel a perennial top seller, but Hollywood also has taken notice. In the 2019 remake of “Pet Sematary,” actor John Lithgow is seen sporting one of the shirts.
“We all wear the shirts on and off camera [for ‘HGTV Home Town’],” Rasberry says. “I don’t know if they saw it [the show] or not, but we got an email from the movie’s wardrobe department saying they wanted to have it.”
Although he didn’t name names, Rasberry also acknowledges that several other high-profile folks have ordered their own shirts, from other HGTV and Discovery Network (which owns “Home Town”) colleagues to some well-known music folks.
Given the feedback the partners have received on the Scotsman Co. Traditional Flannel, it appears they may find favor with consumers across the board.
“We have great reviews that show the quality is consistent, and the fit is great,” Rasberry says. “A lot of customers appreciate the pen holder inside the pocket flap. It’s a confirmation of the goals we set out to accomplish.”
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