‘I did a full 180’: Truckee native switches from medical field to menswear
As Jenny Geresy made the trip to the Bay Area from her hometown in Truckee, a realization began to take hold.
After years of work toward a master’s degree in the medical field, the pandemic and a longing for home triggered a move that surprised family, friends, and even herself.
“My sister got married in August (2020),” said Geresy. “And it was my drive after the wedding back to the Bay. I thought about it for that three-and-a-half hour drive, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’d always played with the idea of moving back, but it was that one drive back the to the Bay that did it.”
Along those roads to San Francisco, Geresy made a figurative U-turn in her life, moving from a career in the health field to opening a men’s clothing store in the town she grew up in.
“I did a full 180,” said Geresy. “People will come in and say, ‘Is this your passion?’ Well, it is now. It started taking over my life.”
While many businesses were shuttered during the outbreak of COVID-19, Geresy found opportunity.
Grizzly Menswear, which opened in May at 1001 Soaring Way, offers seasonal menswear. With the motto, “Where lake life meets mountain life,” the business aims to provide attire suitable for summer days on Tahoe’s beaches down to chilly evenings on a mid-winter night in downtown Truckee.
In order to open Grizzly Menswear, Geresy leaned on friends and family from her childhood in Truckee. Friends who went on to become electricians, architects and contractors all chipped in to help launch the business.
“All of the connections in getting this together made my heart so full,” she said. “I still don’t even think it’s hit me that I own a men’s clothing store. But my favorite part has been the support from the community.”
Opening a businesses during a pandemic hasn’t been without its challenges, said Geresy. Clothes needed to be ordered several months ahead of the upcoming season, leaving her to dig through whatever items she could get her hands on to fill racks during the summer months. As the weeks stretched on, however, those racks soon filled with her own hand-picked items, and as the inventory of clothing widened with T-shirts, flannels, pants, and other selections, so did a desire to give back to the area she grew up in.
“I wanted to be part of the community and give back to the community,” said Geresy. “I’m born and raised here, and I honestly wouldn’t have been able to open the store up anywhere else.”
With residents in South Tahoe displaced by the Caldor Fire, Geresy reached out to friend and Bike E.R. owner Jeremy Woodard to fundraise for those affected.
“No one really knew what was going on with the fire,” said Geresy. “I just felt helpless. I’m just sitting here, and what can we do? What if we did an event?”
By offering free bike tune-ups during Labor Day weekend outside of her store, the two were able to raise more than $1,300 for those affected by the fire.
“It was her idea,” said Woodard. “She asked us if we’d do some free tune-ups — anybody that made a donation, we tuned their bike up for free.”
FINDING A NICHE
Geresy said she’s often asked why cater only to men.
Her response is to keep things simple, putting the idea of selling women’s clothing in a whole other arena versus making sure guys, like her father — a source of inspiration in launching the store — stayed looking sharp.
“I don’t think I would have thought more than 5 minutes about it,” said Geresy on opening a clothing store that catered to women. “There’s no way. Guys’ fashion is so much easier than women.”
Instead, Geresy said she’s looking to “fill the gaps” by providing a revolving selection of clothing items geared toward mountain life that aren’t found around town.
Going forward, Geresy said she’s eyeing more ways to give back to the community as she looks to continue to grow the business during a time of uncertainty, as COVID-19 cases jumped in many regions of the country.
“I’m a brand new business and if I close right now, I’m done,” she said. “That’s it. I’ve definitely been super nervous about that.”
Justin Scacco is a reporter with the Sierra Sun. Contact him at email@example.com
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