Skip to main content

Green Bay men’s clothier realizes dream with new store

Gents, Chaps and Blokes sets up shop on Military Avenue

share arrow printer bookmark flag

April 21, 2023

GREEN BAY – Dane Lasecki said his vision for a retail men’s store in Green Bay emerged from traveling abroad during his undergraduate and graduate years, coupled with the many shopping options available to him while living in Washington D.C.
That vision turned into reality last September when his store – Gents, Chaps and Blokes, located at 1226 S. Military Ave. – opened its doors.

“My father – a retired carpenter – and I worked on this build-out for six weeks last year from August to September,” he said. “What existed here was a golf apparel shop for more than 30 years with no updates. The previous owner had indoor/outdoor carpeting and a golf simulator in the back. The ceiling was dented from golf balls – it was a bit of a mess.”
Inspired by the traditional
Lasecki said he grew up around a small business environment.

“I didn’t go to school for retail merchandising,” he said. “I went to school for political science and urban planning and only recently moved back to Green Bay to open the store. But my mom has owned a hair salon, Classic Designs, three doors down for 35 years, and my sister has a women’s boutique, Sunny Boutique, in the salon as well.”

Lasecki said developing a unique shopping experience in a conservative market was one of his many goals.

“I have an affinity for a few different brands,” he said. “My taste is old world, but more traditional mixed with a few modern touches. I love going into the Ralph Lauren stores. My favorite all-time store is the one on Madison Avenue in New York.”

Lasecki said he took inspiration from that for Gents, Chaps and Blokes.

“During my travel abroad experience, I was naturally drawn to old English manor homes and the old Italian villas,” he said. “I gleaned inspiration from that and the lifestyle there. I envision people that play tennis and polo… that old-money aesthetic. I brought that theme into the store.”

// store’s layout provides customers with
wardrobe ideas and a relaxed shopping experience. Submitted Photo

Lasecki said he wanted to mix that style into the Green Bay market.
“Granted we are a conservative market, and I am not going to sell $1,000 suits in Green Bay,” he said. “As far as men’s shopping, our city is a retail desert, which creates that opportunity to fill a niche.”

Lasecki said he curated his clothing brands with things he knew and appreciated.

“That also matches the quality and the price,” he said. “I am not going to outprice myself in this market. Everything is premium level and nothing is outrageously high-end, but I also wanted to focus on those heritage brands that have been around for more than 100 years where you know what you’re getting and what you are paying for.”

The European shopping style, for example, Lasecki said, are pieces that last a lifetime versus many lesser-quality garments.
He said there are distinct market segments when it comes to fashion.

“There is a dichotomy between fast fashion like H&M and Zara and your heritage brands that you will have in your closet for long enough to pass down to a younger generation,” he said. 

Gents, Chaps and Blokes also features vintage attire.

“A friend and I source our vintage section,” Lasecki said. “The brands may be 40 years old, but they look brand new. That reveals the brands’ craftsmanship and level of detail.”

When he began planning for the store, Lasecki said he tapped into his experiences in retail through his mom and sister and their shops, as well as the Green Bay small business community, which he said is close-knit.

“I knew the type of person I wanted to come into the store,” he said. “I am not trying to compete with JC Penney or Kohl’s. I want to make it a specially tailored experience that is hands-on and personal versus one in which you walk in the door, and you get a hello and that’s about it.”
Location, location, location
Lasecki said he chose the Military Avenue location partly because it was right next to his mom’s salon.

“I know this neighborhood well because of her business and its longevity on Military Avenue,” he said. “I could have gone to downtown Green Bay or even downtown De Pere, but the rent is affordable here.”

Lasecki said it also had to do with the shop’s proximity to Lambeau Field.

“Part of my calculus for opening here is how my urban planning mind thinks – given all of the investment and development near Lambeau Field,” he said. “In the next five to 10 years, hopefully, Military Avenue will be a direct appendage of that growth. I also think this part of town needs a little TLC.”

//, Chaps and Blokes owner Dane Lasecki said the clothes in his story were inspired by “old-money aesthetics.” Submitted Photo

The strip mall in which Gents, Chaps and Blokes is located, Lasecki said, has a significant amount of foot traffic, with online revenue accounting for a relatively small part of the business.

“Roughly 15 to 20% of my business comes from online sales,” he said. “I want to focus on the brick-and-mortar part of the business. Online sales are a sidekick to what I’m doing here.”

The name
Lasecki said many people are curious about the origin of the store’s name.

“Gents, Chaps and Blokes describes the customers I want,” he said. “A gent is your businessman – the guy who wears a business suit every day to work.”

The chap, on the other hand, Lasecki said, is the preppy, young professional.

“And your bloke is any guy who comes in off the street,” he said. “When you put Gents, Chaps and Blokes together, it essentially invites everyone to come in and find something.”

Lasecki said the merchandise in the shop is at a price level “where a construction worker, like my dad, or the mayor of Green Bay can find something.”
Just the beginning
Lasecki said Gents, Chaps and Blokes holds private events for small groups when new seasonal offerings arrive – where a specific customer base is invited to shop privately while enjoying hors d’oeuvres and beverages. 

The walls of Gents, Chaps and Blokes are painted hunter green and red with Ralph Lauren wallpaper accents.

Lasecki said the furniture comes from second-hand stores in Green Bay, while the cash register is tucked away by the leather-benched dressing rooms.

“I want it to feel like I own a huge home, and this is my closet,” he said. “Usually, when guys go shopping, they don’t browse, so our store is organized efficiently.”

Lasecki said he sees the store evolving into different markets with expanded offerings.

“I would (like to) add a few more brands while growing into different geographical locations,” he said. “I would consider opening a location in Madison and focusing on collegiate style, or one in the Third Ward in Milwaukee and featuring workman’s wear, or the Brooklyn hipster vibe or even a store with resort wear in Door County. Not that I’m a chameleon, but I appreciate many different styles. I believe I can create a store that mirrors the neighborhood it is in.”

Lasecki said his professional growth is multidimensional, and he intends to cultivate that as well. 

“I want this store to get to a point where it runs itself,” he said. “I still love politics. I worked on Capitol Hill and worked on legislation and am still interested in that. I will soon be appointed to the Brown County Planning Commission, as I want to get involved in the community. Once the store can do its own thing, I will still be hands-on, but I will also enjoy other career challenges. I want to diversify my time.”

share arrow printer bookmark flag

Trending View All Trending