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Downtown clothing store survives flooding, building ownership change

A loyal customer base is being credited with saving a men’s clothing store in downtown Dayton that had a brush with catastrophe after a burst pipe caused serious flooding.

Price Stores at 52 S. Jefferson St. reopened its main men’s showroom this month after being closed for more than 10 months because of water damage.

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Edd Wimsatt bought Price Stores in 1996. Wimsatt worked at the store as a teen. He hopes the business can stay put at its long-time home on Jefferson Street. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF (Staff Writer)

The store, which first opened in 1950, survived by keeping a small portion of its business open for proms and weddings, said Edd Wimsatt, the business owner.

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“We haven’t missed any rentals, wedding parties or commitments,” he said.

Price Stores is open and will fully reopen once remodeling is completed, said Wimsatt. Price Stores plans to expand and isn’t going anywhere, says Wimsatt — well, assuming he can work out a new lease with the new building owners.

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In September, a backflow issue caused a pipe to burst on the fifth floor of the Price Stores building. Water flooded the entire building and basement.

“It was a mess,” Wimsatt said.

The interior of the building was torn apart so it could be remodeled, Wimsatt said. The flooding caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of destruction.

Price Stores staff cleaned up the third floor, which was the least damaged by the flooding, so it could keep its tux business open. Customers had to use a side door to get in to the “skeleton” space.

“We made it work. It was still ugly, but we had great and very loyal customers …” Wimsatt said. “It kept us alive. That’s why we’re still here.”

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Wimsatt said his staff have been working hard to get the store looking normal again. The first floor still needs carpeting and other improvements.

Once remodeling is finished, the plan is to have men’s clothing on the first floor, tuxedos on the second and storage, laundry and dry cleaning on the fifth, Wimsatt said. At one time, Price Stores occupied all five floors.

But there’s some question of what will happen to the building, which has new ownership.

Edd Wimsatt bought Price Stores in 1996. Wimsatt worked at the store as a teen. He hopes the business can stay put at its long-time home on Jefferson Street. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF (Staff Writer)

The building has been acquired by the Windsor Companies, which has taken over the project to redevelop multiple buildings in the Fire Blocks District.

Wimsatt said he wants to stay put and hopes to reach a lease agreement with the new owners soon.

Things are kind of in limbo right now, but hopefully Price Stores can remain at its long-time home and the new owners can convert some of the empty floors of the building into new uses, Wimsatt said.

Windsor Companies is working directly with Wimsatt and hopes to figure out a way to keep Price Stores in business while addressing the major needs of the building, said Eric VanZwieten, head of marketing and public relations with Windsor.

Windsor Companies wants to make the Fire Blocks project work for the community, and there are no definite plans for Price Stores building at this point, he said.

“We’re trying to make it work,” he said.

Some people have heard about the new Fire Blocks redevelopment plans and wrongly assume Price Stores has packed up and left, he said.

It hasn’t. It’s still where it’s always been for nearly 69 years. Wimsatt said he hopes it’s going to be there a lot longer than that.

Wimsatt said he hopes to expand his clothing offerings to include some higher-end products.

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