In January of 2021, Brady Anderson and his business partners opened The Wilander, a venture Anderson said is the only men’s clothing store downtown Brandon has had for nearly 10 years.
What does The Wilander mean? It is a combination of the last names of Anderson and co-owner Brennan Williams.
The store had a phenomenal opening weekend and has remained successful, despite starting during a pandemic, Anderson said.
“It didn’t really affect us other than the production of a lot of our merchandise, which is manufactured overseas,” he said. “The production times have extended, shipping times have extended, shipping rates are out the roof. In terms of sales, I don’t really think we have been affected that much. We don’t know what it was like before then, but to us, the store has been very successful.”
Anderson also works as a paralegal, real estate broker and entrepreneur. After successfully running a children’s clothing store for about three months, he opened The Wilander. Although he always wanted to open a men’s clothing store, he had no real intentions doing so until he saw the space for sale.
“When we saw that space, we knew we would use it for something,” he said. “I thought, ‘Hey, why don’t we open a men’s clothing store?’”
After consulting with his wife and business partners, Anderson conceived the idea for The Wilander, and the store opened six weeks later.
Anderson was mysterious about it to grab consumers’ attention.
“That place right there [the location of the store] has a lot of street frontage,” he said. “A lot of people pass it, so we put big signs in the window saying ‘Cool things are coming.’ We made it out as a secret that we couldn’t tell you.”
Anderson opened the store with a business loan and sold a rental house he owned. He began working in retail in October 2020 when he purchased Southern Raised, a children’s clothing store, also located in downtown Brandon.
He was never interested in owning a children’s clothing store until he had a child, himself, and began to realize how much money goes into the business. After seeing the store location, he decided it was a great investment.
“The previous owners decided they were about to sell it, and jokingly one day, I told them I wanted to buy it,” he said. “That was on a Tuesday, and we closed on Friday.
“When we bought Southern Raised, the previous owners agreed to finance us the store. Other than that, we basically just cashed in everything we owned.”
Having no previous retail experience, Anderson had no choice but to dive in head first.
“We just jumped right into it and sort of figured it out on our own,” he said. “Honestly, we called in a lot of help from Properly Tied.”
Properly Tied is a men’s clothing brand founded by Hunter Knight. Anderson first met Knight at a small business administration counseling workshop at Hinds Community College. Since then, Knight has guided Anderson through the world of retail so he could run Southern Raised and The Wilander smoothly.
“When we ended up buying Southern Raised, I ended up having to reach out to Hunter and ask him about the markets I needed to go to to buy merchandise, etc,” he said. “He helped me out a lot by just telling me basically where I need to be. Then we basically just went from there.”
Anderson has five employees working at both The Wilander and Southern Raised to help run the store, assist customers, and work the register.
Michael Alan Lacey was the first person Anderson hired as an employee, and he has been working at the store since opening day.
“I think the business runs very smoothly,” said Lacey. “If there is ever an issue with something relating to the business, Brady is very quick to fix it. All employees have a set of responsibilities, and we know the level of standards that we are held to and try our best to exceed them every day.”
Lacey is proud of Anderson for balancing many jobs.
“I find it easy to work with Brady,” Lacey said. “Since he owns two businesses and simultaneously works as a realtor and a paralegal, I feel like he has gathered all of the skills necessary to run a great business.”
When asked how he balances his life as a husband, father, realtor, paralegal, and business owner, Anderson laughed and said, “I don’t… The key is to have good staff. I don’t know what I would do without an employee like Michael Alan.”
Lacey said the most beneficial part of working at The Wilander is that it has provided him with a better understanding of the value of teamwork. He said it has also taught him useful life skills, like customer service, preparing inventory, and how to run a business smoothly.
Anderson said he has big plans coming soon.
“I am always looking for a new business adventure…,” he said. “You never know what it will be, but there is most definitely more to come. I can’t sit still for very long.”