Roy and Jacqui Gress opened a fashion store known as Mountain Vibes in St. Elmo last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic that hurt many retail stores.
Although they ultimately decided to close their St. Elmo store and try another venture, the Gresses remain optimistic about their future and Chattanooga, where they moved to from Florida five years ago.
“We visited Chattanooga almost every fall for 20 years and fell in love with this city and all it has to offer,” Roy Gress said.
That spirit of confidence and joy is reflected in the Gresses’ newest business, the Life is Good fashion store that opened last week in downtown Chattanooga.
“We think of ourselves as optimists and we have always liked the phrase “life is good” and the business built on that name,” Gress said. “Life is tough — it’s not perfect. But life is good, even through Covid.”
Last Friday, the Gresses opened their 1,200-square-foot Life is Good store at 411 Broad Street. The Chattanooga store is the second such Life is Good branded outlet in Tennessee and one of 46 such stores nationwide.
The Life is Good stores, along with other retail outlets and the company’s online store selling the branded merchandise, offer a variety of hats, T-shirts, fashion wear and even chairs, tote bag, mugs and pet items displaying the “Life is Good” motto. The store’s popular 100% cotton shirts typically sell for $28 each, while hats are priced around $25.
Life is Good was founded in Boston in 1994 by brothers Bert & John Jacobs to inspire people to celebrate the good in their lives. Over time, the concept evolved as customers shared their stories of wearing a Life is Good hat or shirt as a reminder to find optimism in the face of life’s adversity.
The $150 million-a-year apparel brand also helps spread its message of optimism through the Life is Good Kids Foundation, which aids over 1 million children a year. Ten percent of Life is Good’s annual net profits go towards the The Life is Good Kids Foundation, which helps child care providers aid children to heal from various traumas.
The Gresses, who once worked at Universal Studios in Florida, previously sold Life is Good merchandise at a retail shop they ran in Mount Dora, Florida before they relocated to Chattanooga. They have been retailers for Life is Good merchandise for most of the past decade.
“A lot of people know the brand and they like it and there is just something about creating a welcoming store that encourages people to want to come in and shop with us,” Gress said. “People like a positive, optimistic message.”
The only other Life is Good branded store in Tennessee is in Gatlinburg “so we expect a lot of people familiar with the brand and what it stands for will seek us out,” Gress said.
“It’s a positive message and that’s something I think people really need right now,” said Jacqui Gress. “We want to make people feel better and I think this store does that.”
Contact Dave Flessner at [email protected] or at 423-757-6340