‘Building relationships’: Family-owned Rush Wilson Limited menswear store nearing 70 years

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Rush Wilson menswear
Jay Wilson, left, and his father, Rush Wilson III, pose in their family-owned store called Rush Wilson Limited, located on West North Street in Downtown Greenville. Photo by Jack Robert Photography.

Rush Wilson Jr. was only 23 years old when he entered into a partnership to co-own a men’s clothing store called Wilson Wright in Davidson, North Carolina on Aug. 20, 1950.

A World War II veteran of the U.S. Marines, Rush Wilson Jr. started worked in department stores throughout high school and college, and once he finished military service, he decided to open his own store. He became the full owner just a few years after Wilson Wright opened and renamed it Rush Wilson Limited.

In 1959, he opened a second store on Main Street in Greenville, where he moved his family six years later, and closed the Davidson store in 1969. At the time, Rush Wilson Limited was one of less than a dozens menswear stores downtown. His trademark was one the store still specializes in today — suits with natural shoulders.

Photo by Jack Robert Photography.

At the time, most suits had rigid, squared-off shoulders, but Rush Wilson Jr. looked to styles in New York and New England and discovered the sloped, natural shoulders he would market for decades.

Now, Rush Wilson Limited has been on West North Street right off Main for 41 years, and it’s been run by three generations of Rush Wilsons.

Rush Wilson III started working in his dad’s store when he was 12 years old — sweeping the floors, washing windows, rigging mannequins. At 15 years old, he sold his first suit.

Like his dad, Rush Wilson has an uncanny ability to remember names and faces — he’s been in charge of the store for about 21 years now, and he can remember all of his loyal customers.

“Our business is based on relationships and giving good service,” Rush Wilson III said. “Offering products that fit our customer’s lifestyle, and then building relationships with the customer where they want to come back.”

Photo by Jack Robert Photography.

His son, Rush Wilson IV — who goes by Jay — is planning to take over the store once his father retires. Like his dad, Jay started working in the store as a teenager and in college — six years ago, he quit his job at T.D. Bank to work in the shop full time.

“I was nervous about making the change,” Jay Wilson said. “But as soon as I got here, I recognized all the brands because I grew up in it. It was an easy transition. It just felt natural.”

It’s been 69 years since Rush Wilson Jr. first opened his Davidson store, and 60 years since its move to Greenville. Now, the store has been in a fixture for menswear in Downtown Greenville. Almost every customer gets fitted before leaving Rush Wilson Limited, the Wilsons remember them.

“I would say we know every single one of them,” Rush Wilson III said.

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