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Men’s clothing store, Alaceus, has new owner

CHASE BOTTORF/THE EXPRESS Men’s clothing store Alaceus is under new ownership by Brandon Avalos, right, and currently managed by Cat Sheptock, left.

LOCK HAVEN — Men’s fashion is getting a big makeover in the city of Lock Haven.

For years, the area has had a lackluster supply of menswear, with most stores being promoted towards women’s fashion. Alaceus opened up to change that.

The store was coined and opened by a Lock Haven University graduate, Mohamed Ahamed-Ahrar. Although he is not working at the store, Ahamed-Ahrar is still involved in the business and currently working on franchising outside of the business. Because of that, the ownership was passed onto Brandon Avalos, who has significant experience in the clothing and creative industry.

Avalos has created several clothing collections and worked with different notable clothing brands across the nation such as Justin Beiber’s line, Drewhouse and Malbon Golf, a Los Angeles-based clothing store started by professional golfer Stephen Malbon. Certain collections he has worked with are what he considers as “edgy athletic wear” that someone would wear if they “don’t want to dress like their dad,” with clothing pieces such as reflected sweatsuits, dry-fit sweatshirts and T-shirts that would go above and beyond a simple logo. He has also created outfit styling with big name people like 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne, and Baron Corbin.

Avalos said he is currently working on a clothing line as a partnership with trendy fashion brands and himself called Get The F*** Out Of Here (GTFOH) which is in reference to swinging a club at a golf ball.

“I am definitely real conscious about what I put on things. I am doing a collection right now with Supreme. It is between Supreme and Stephen Malbon and myself. It was a collection we had originally done at the Malbon Golf store in Beverly Hills,” he explained. “GTFOH is a bunch of terry cloth hoodies, kind of like leisure wear but it is more appealing to 25-40 year old guys. A 40-year-old man now dresses like he is 25, and a 65-year-old man is dressing like they’re 40. Nobody wants to dress old anymore.”

Avalos is also the proprietor of Prime Sportswear in Williamsport, which sells different brands of trendy fast fashion streetwear and sportswear. Having had years of experience in retail and following different clothing trends, he has hopes and big ideas for bringing his tastes to the area. Being that Alaceus is exclusively a menswear store, he plans to continue that model as it is the only men’s store in the area.

“The thing is, you have got a lot of really cool women’s stores here… but there are no men’s stores. I kind of want to keep it going with menswear,” he explained, believing that running strictly a menswear store will be a benefit for an area like Clinton County. “Everyone that I have spoken to says that they drive to Williamsport or to State College to shop. Other than that, they have Walmart.”

Expanding out into different clothing brands and bringing in the trendy market is one of Avalos’s current goals. He plans on bringing more streetwear style brands such as Supreme, Bathing Ape, and Essentials to the area for kids and men searching for that signature type of look.

“I think as long as I keep some of the limited edition stuff, like Supreme, Bathing Ape and Essentials, I think it is going to do well here. There are just those couple kids that want that kind of stuff,” he said. Considering central Pennsylvania is known for its mountains and outdoor activities like hiking and fishing, Avalos wants to also appease local outdoorsman with trendy hiking boots, fishing shirts, and hats.

“I started bringing in stuff for fishermen, just hats for right now. The T-shirts are not really selling but the button up fishing shirts are. It leads me to believe that the men in this town want some more outdoorsy casual wear,” he said.

Along with adding new brands, he noted the lack of places to buy shoes in Lock Haven.

“There is nowhere to get shoes in this town,” he added. Shoe lines like Nike Dunks and Yeezys are a prime target of styles Avalos hopes to bring into the store, giving an outlet for sneaker junkies.

“I think people being able to get some cool stuff without having to wait on the internet, not knowing if it is real — that is what we deal with in Williamsport — a lot of people want to buy that kind of stuff for their kids and then get it but they’re getting it from these fake sites. It is nice to be able to have some legit stuff here,” he said.

Along with updating the store with more brands to choose from, Avalos plans to completely re-design and transform the storefront with a more industrial look. He plans on updating the current traditional retail look with pipes and heavy metal fixtures to give the store a more “rawness” to it. For the time being, he plans to keep the Alaceus name, though he said it could also change in the future.

Through his connections of growing up skateboarding in the 90s, Avalos connected with different people and tastemakers (trend setters) that would help get him to where he is today. Comparing his teen years to that of the move “Kids,” and having known and skateboarded with Harold Hunter whom played in the movie, and another mentioned skater, Ponyboy, who helped him garner a foothold on making it in the fashion and music industry.

“It is funny because the ones that didn’t end up dying, became tastemakers, whether it be in music or fashion — that whole 90s vibe today was pushed from these people. They ended up pushing out Zoo York which became Supreme and it really filtered into all this different stuff,” Avalos explained. “Because of that, I still have these connections with people who are involved with everybody today. One of my mentors was Ricky Powell. He was considered as the “fourth” Beastie Boy. There was actually a song that the Beastie Boys did called “Ricky’s Theme” and it is a jazz song because Rocky always carried around a transistor radio and would always play jazz music.”

From the connections he had made growing up and getting mentored by influential people, it helped him get into the music business which now acts as his side job.

Avalos has made a commitment to his passion of music and began helping new, young talented artists make their way in the industry. Having recently started his own studio out of his Prime Sportswear store, he has started to take on managing and mixing local artists.

Though the studio addition was purely a response to the quarantine that made it difficult working with other city based studios. One of the artists he works with is Williamsport native, 570JV who got help from Avalos in promoting his music in a major way.

“I was managing a kid, 570JV, a rapper who was brought to me. Somebody said ‘look he is trying really hard, he is not making it anywhere, I think he is really good.’ I worked with him for a of couple months, got his song on NBA 2K, then got him his song playing at NBA stadium. I had him do the Thursday night theme song for football. In-between commercial breaks, there is a song they played that he did and we made,” he exclaimed. “I was able to kind of help this young rapper with all my connections like them. It really worked out well, and he was doing well on it and then quarantine came, and we were no longer able to go to Philly or New York to record because none of the studios could take people from out of the town.”

Since no one would take them, Avalos was fortunately able to receive a pay advance from a publishing company which he utilized to open up his very own studio. Taking the advance as half and putting his own money in for the other half, he was able to afford the price of adding his studio in the back of the Prime store so he could record.

“Most of the store is actually a studio now,” he said. “It was a retail store and because of the quarantine, no one was buying clothes… Everybody was wearing sweatpants… so no one wanted to shop. Nobody was going to stores or anything like that, we were just sitting there and nobody was showing up. I had to layoff employees and everything. The studio really saved it. We started doing that and then we have been recording all types of vocalists now.”

Alaceus could also be having its own studio which will coincide with it, Avalos hopes.

For the time being the store is primarily being operated by Avalos with help by appointed manager Cat Sheptock. He plans to soon hire some more employees with like minded love for fashion. He also plans to have a grand opening of the store.

“I am sponsored by Austin Eastciders, a hard cider company. Any event I do, I get a bunch of free hard cider, so I will have a bunch of hard cider at the grand opening, maybe some musicians, a DJ, and some drinks, and open up the shop,” he said. “I think as long as we stay open and we keep it going, I think we are going to do well here.”

Alaceus is open Tuesday through Friday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. The store is located at 108 E. Main St. in Lock Haven.

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