Locally owned EPIC Jeans gears up for holiday shopping season

Shoppers swarmed to Riverhead Thanksgiving night for the annual rush of Black Friday shopping at Tanger Outlets. The madness began at 6 p.m. Thursday and continues through Friday night.

But at least one business there has its sights set beyond Black Friday, to another themed shopping day: Small Business Saturday.

Nestled amid the national retailers at Tanger, EPIC Jeans is owned by Robert and Kristen Keenaghan of Riverhead, who bought the store in 2016. When it debuted at Tanger in 2005, EPIC Jeans was part of a larger organization with multiple locations. Now, it’s the last one remaining.

“It’s a challenging setting because we’re up against brands that people know everywhere and these companies have multi-million dollar marketing budgets,” Mr. Keenaghan said. “It seems like they have unlimited funds compared to a guy like me.”

It’s the only locally owned store at the Riverhead Tanger, Mr. Keenaghan said.

“Most people don’t know that we are locally owned,” he said. “Most people assume that all of Tanger are bigger stores, but we aren’t.”

The clothing store caters to a younger demographic and carries popular brands like North Face, Champion and Patagonia. Mr. Keenaghan said his wife hand-picks every item sold in the store. Residents may also recognize the local brand LIR Clothing, a company founded by Anthony Harris of Riverhead.

“Having a locally owned store was something they [Tanger] don’t traditionally do,” Mr. Keenaghan said. “Since then we’ve grown online. We sell on Amazon, Jet other marketplaces. We know the future is being online, not just having brick-and-mortar stores.”

The business will still take part in the early Black Friday rush, offering $10 off every $50 spent, with no limit, Mr. Keenaghan said. The sale lasts through Sunday.

Small Business Saturday dates back to 2010, when it was widely promoted by American Express. It’s followed by Cyber Monday, when e-commerce stores offer online deals.

“I think our customers really like what we are able to do as a small-business retailer,” said Mr. Keenaghan, who started as an employee at EPIC Jeans before working his way up to owning the store. “We’re able to fine tune our store specifically to what the local customers want.”

When the couple bought the store, its lease with Tanger was expiring. They opted to re-up the lease and stay at Tanger rather than relocate. They hope to open a second store in the future as well.

Mr. Keenaghan said his local edge helps combat the big online retailers.

“In an environment that everything is going online, what Amazon can’t do is find out what that young guy or girl in Riverhead wants to wear out Friday night,” he said.

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