If anyone was at Click Boutique on April 27, 2011, they would have thought they were on the set of the popular AMC series “Mad Men.”
The show is based on a 1960s New York City advertising agency and the mod fashion of the time is a definite source of inspiration for the Hattiesburg women’s clothing store that hosted the masquerade theme party, complete with mock cigarettes, beehive hair and cocktails.
Co-owners Adam Myrick and Jason LeViere are the dynamic duo behind the popular store which has become a success story in Hattiesburg.
Click shoppers can find the latest seasonal fashion from both the East and West Coast including dresses, skirts and blouses as well as jewelry, shoes and even Hattiesburg-themed T-shirts.
“We found in Hattiesburg that the more our business grew, the more impact we had on our small community,” Myrick says. “Community ties became the biggest part of our business.”
With its central location between Jackson and the Gulf Coast and its annual influx of 20,000 William Carey and Southern Miss students, the so-called Hub City has been reinventing its downtown area as a shopping and dining destination that in the past has been overlooked or dismissed.
“I love being downtown and it’s definitely something that’s up and coming and is a movement that you can’t ignore,” LaViere says. “You can definitely feel it.”
Both Myrick and LaViere’s biographies compliment each other and enhance their perspectives as business owners in South Mississippi.
Pittsburgh-born LaViere admits he had never visited Mississippi or anywhere else in the South before moving to Hattiesburg. He earned a public relations and marketing degree from Point Park University and worked in fashion merchandising in New York City for seven years prior to moving south.
“Its been a growing experience for me,” he says. “I could only go by what I saw in movies. (I had) lots of misconceptions about the South that were not really negative necessarily — just not true.”
Myrick grew up in Hattiesburg and earned a theater degree from the University of Southern Mississippi before moving to New York City to work in visual merchandising and corporate training for H&M and Restoration Hardware.
“Coming back here there’s generational opportunity,” Myrick says. “There’s a huge void between young people who are in school and a more mature audience. There’s a great opportunity for a generation of young professionals to be stakeholders in the state.”
Opening up a funky clothing boutique that hosts scavenger hunts and block parties wasn’t easy in the early days, Myrick says. Click got crossed up several times with local community groups that didn’t grasp their vision.
“We cannot succeed as an individual business if our whole block or downtown doesn’t move forward,” Myrick says. “We presented things in a very new way that was out of the box and there was some pushback and friction.”
LeViere says just being a small shop owner in a recovering economy is a challenge.
“I’d love to see things start to turn around,” LeViere says. Inventory taxes on things like furniture and computers make it hard for small businesses to be successful and profitable, according to LeViere.
“In the big scheme of things that tax discourages me from reinvesting in my building,” he says. “It doesn’t encourage business when you have something like that looming above.”
Myrick compares running his store to playing with a Rubic’s cube. “You’re always problem-solving and figuring out the next thing,” he says. “Its such an amazing challenge that takes a lot of energy and drive. There’s nobody over your shoulder telling you what to do.”
What brought the two men together and keeps Click going is their love for fashion and a passion and allegiance to what they call “The Click Girl.”
Most of their customers range from high school and college-aged girls to young professional or young mothers.
“One of Click’s strengths is classic dressing and being true to who you are,” Myrick says. “Dress like you mean it, not to be showy or over the top but just comfortable and expressive.”
The future for Myrick and LeViere will indeed be full of expression. Already they have opened an accessories store called Twelve Oaks and are planning a hair salon and 24-hour fitness club.
“It just takes small businesses to create needs for people to have experiences,” Myrick says.
“What I really like about having a business is its like a family,” LeViere says, adding that he compares a future Front Street to Magazine Street in New Orleans. “We’re a close-knit community. Downtown isn’t a place. Its an experience.”
“For so many years we admired the buildings and remember the stories of our parents that ate downtown and lived downtown,” Myrick says. “It’s about making downtown Hattiesburg current and accessible.”
Click Boutique & Gallery
Address: 138 East Front Street, Hattiesburg
Owners: Adam Myrick and Jason LeViere
Phone: (601) 336-7046
Website: popintotheshop.com, whatsnextdowntown.com