TOWNSEND -- Upon walking into Evans on the Common, the family-owned clothing and footwear boutique, patrons can expect to see a few things: customers meandering through racks of high-end clothing and accessories, the smiling faces of congenial employees greeting them and someone with the Evans name managing the floor.
These days, it's more likely to be Matthew Evans, vice-president and manager, although on weekends customers might see his dad, Gary, the store's founder.
"He's sort of semi-retired, but on weekends he still works the floor," said the younger Evans. "He likes to come in and talk with the customers."
Patrons who happen to break a shoe on the way across the threshold are likely to be greeted in a way altogether different than they could expect anywhere else.
"We can fix that for you," Evans would say.
And off they would be whisked to the back room, only to emerge five minutes later, freshly repaired shoe in hand, no charge. (The only exception: If it's not something they can do the premises, they outsource to a professional cobbler.)
It's this kind of service that has likely contributed to the store's longevity and success; This month, Evans on the Common is celebrating 33 years in Townsend. Originally opened in a location down the street in 1979, the store moved to their current location five years later and has been there ever since, Evans said.
"It's a little more clothing-centered but the footwear slowly over the years
In an era where privately owned businesses have tended to fall prey to the pitfalls of a hard economy, Evans on the Common has not only survived, but flourished.
"There was only one year where there wasn't growth," Evans said. "In general it's been recession-proof, except for the dot-com boom."
Actually, he said, the past two years have been the best that the store has seen in sales in its entire run.
"And it looks like this year's going to beat them," he said.
So what's Evans family's secret to success?
According to Evans, it's not much of a secret: offering higher quality items, specialty products and services like free shoe repairs.
"Especially right now, people want to get the best for their dollar in terms of quality," Evans said. "We have a reputation of service and quality. Anybody can buy the inexpensive stuff at the bigger places, but you're going to get what you're paying for."
In fact, the store has become so reputable for its footwear section that podiatrists have recommended it to customers with foot issues, according to Evans.
"The reputation just builds on itself," he said. "(Ours is) the type of customer who's willing to drive out here from two hours away."
To maintain the store's success, Evans said he likes to make sure Evans on the Common is one of the first to offer new products on the market, especially if it's something a little less conventional. For instance, when the new shoes-with-toes fad emerged, he said, his store was one of the first in the area to offer it.
"People love something new and exciting and different ... you cover a much wider area if you're ahead of the curve," he said.
And if the product doesn't sell well, that's just one of the many chances the store is willing to take in order maintain its reputation and customer base.
"You can't be averse to risk," said Evans.