Russell’s of Washington celebrates 40 stylish years

Published 6:12 am Thursday, January 26, 2023

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Russell’s of Washington has been a staple of sharp dressed men for 40 years. It’s where these men have gone (and continue to go) to purchase tailored suits, stylish everyday outfits and accessories. 

Russell Smith purchased the storefront on Main Street in 1983. Back then, popular men’s fashion included Levi 501 jeans, boat shoes, Members Only Jackets and wearing T-shirts with pastel suits. Not to mention oversized aviator sunglasses. 

Smith has seen fashion trends evolve over the last four decades inside his shop, but outside of his shop, he has seen downtown Washington evolve as well. 

He said there were periods where downtown businesses struggled; however, it has been “strong.” “Business has always been good, because there have been several good merchants that have been in here and people come from all over to shop,” Smith said. 

At 14 years old, Smith began working on Main Street around the same time the City of Washington refurbished the sidewalks in the 1970’s, he joked. 

Russell said it’s been amazing to watch the downtown area flourish since the City of Washington began its recent sidewalk construction project. “I’ve been on Main Street for 52 years and these past three or four years – since the pandemic – with the new landscape and sidewalks and stuff – it’s been incredible. New businesses and new restaurants – it has really exploded.” 

Though much has changed over the years, Russell’s has remained a local icon for local and vacationing shoppers. Smith is wary of describing Russell’s as an “iconic” store despite customers using the word themselves when congratulating him on the store’s anniversary. 

“I don’t know about an icon, but I’ve been down here a long time through the good and bad and I am proud and the store is in good hands…,” Smith said. 

Smith can still be seen in the shop from time to time assisting current owner Ronda Lyons. Lyons purchased the shop two-and-a-half years ago. She has been working at Russell’s for 16 years. Around the time Lyons began working at Russell’s, the store added women’s clothing, jewelry and baby gifts to its inventory. 

She appreciates Smith had a clear vision for the shop and had faith in her to be able to carry out that vision. “It’s my goal to continue and carry this store, the name Russell’s on for as long as I possibly can and to make not only Russell’s name proud, but to make [Smith] himself proud.” 

She continued to say she has a great work family who assists her and without them she would be unable to run the store. 

On Friday, Jan. 27, the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce will host an anniversary celebration at Russell’s of Washington located at 118 W. Main Street at noon. An open house will be held the same afternoon until 5 p.m.