After 35 years of business, all three Hays Family Clothing stores, located in Jonesboro, Judsonia and Searcy are set to close their doors this year.
Hays is currently owned by Terry and Monte Hays, brothers who started the business in 1982. In a statement released by Monte Hays on March 20, 2016, he announced that after being presented with an opportunity to sell the Jonesboro location that they could not pass up, they had decided to retire and close the stores. Tyler Hays, Terry Hays’ son, and his wife Emily Hays, in turn, bought the Searcy location and plan to open a new store called Hays 2: the Next Generation.
“I’ve always been in the business, since I was 15,” Tyler Hays said. “My grandpa loaned (Terry and Monte Hays) the money and they started (the business), so I’m actually the third generation Hays. And I’ve got a son … hopefully one day he’ll take it over.”
According to Tyler, changing the name of the store symbolizes a fresh start and new beginning, but also a continuation of the Hays legacy. The logo will look similar to the current Hays logo, in order to remain familiar to shoppers.
“We’ve had four generations of families shop with us, and we want to keep that same customer base,” Tyler Hays said. “Sometimes you can get so big that you lose focus on what made you that way, and that’s why we just really want one main location, so we can get back to great customer service and get to know every customer by name, like we always used to.”
Hays 2 will carry most of the same brands and merchandise, but Tyler Hays said they also plan to sell more, such as guns, ammo and furniture. The Searcy location will be the sole store and Emily Hays said they wanted to maintain the same atmosphere and family-friendly environment. She also said their main focus will be giving back to and being a part of the Searcy community.
“We will carry everything from newborn up to men’s 6X, footwear, appliance, furniture, anything,” Emily Hays said. “It really helps when you make it personal shopping, because then people want to come back to us, and that helps us because we need the community.”
Harding freshman Dillon Stone said he began working at Hays at the start of his junior year of high school and has worked there for two and a half years now.
“It’s a one stop-shop for a lot of families, and if we can continue to provide that for Searcy, that’s awesome,” Stone said. “We’re always hiring, and I would love to work with more Harding kids. It’s a fun job and you get to hang out with a lot of awesome people there.”
Tyler Hays said that Harding students make up a large percentage of their employment and that Harding is a major part of their business. As a younger generation, he also said they hope to reach out to Harding students and help them in any way they can.
“Come talk to us; we’re more than willing to help,” Tyler Hays said. “If they’re fashion merchandising or something, we’re more than happy to help them start from the ground up and try to teach them what we’ve learned over the years.”
According to Emily Hays, the store will close May 15 and the grand opening of Hays 2 is set to take place in July.
“Monte and my dad have built a tremendous business in 35 years,” Tyler Hays said. “They’ve always done it as far as family owned, family operated, customer service and putting God first, and trying to do right by every customer. Every customer, no matter what they spend, they’re very important to us.”