Carrie Rengers

Betty Johnston takes first step in carving new store identity

Betty Johnston now owns Section37 next to Johnston’s at the Collective.
Betty Johnston now owns Section37 next to Johnston’s at the Collective. Courtesy photo

Betty Johnston has taken the first of two steps toward carving a new identity for her store.

She’s had Johnston’s by Betty, a collection of classic women’s clothing, within Johnston’s at the Collective for five years.

“It has been separate for five years, but not a lot of people know it’s separate,” Johnston says.

Her in-laws, J.V. and Veronica Johnston, and their business partner, Kevin Edmundson, are planning to move Johnston’s to a new building once they sell or lease their existing 13,000 square feet near K-96 and 21st Street. Betty Johnston’s plan was to move to a new building at that time and change the name of the store.

Instead, she decided to take over Section37, the men’s and women’s contemporary clothing shop next to Johnston’s.

Betty Johnston is moving her more classic women’s clothing into Section37 and selling it along with more contemporary women’s attire.

The men’s contemporary clothing is now within Johnston’s.

“That made a lot of sense just to transition that way,” Betty Johnston says.

She says she’ll keep the Section37 name when she moves to new space in the new year.

Johnston says she’s taking a chance to completely separate from Johnston’s.

“I want to do it so I can actually have my own store,” she says. “People still consider me Johnston’s.”

Johnston says she’s always catered to an older clientele, and she says she hopes to keep those customers. However, she’s 31, and she says, “I do want … it to become more of who I am, too.”

Edmundson says it makes sense to have the men’s traditional and contemporary clothing all in one place now at Johnston’s.

“Sometimes I think we didn’t always think about taking them over there,” he says of Section37.

Also, Edmundson says, there’s more room now and items can be displayed better.

Johnston’s is returning to its roots. When it opened as McVicar’s in 1914, it was strictly a men’s clothing store.

Though Edmundson is happy with the change, he says he has found one drawback.

“We miss the girls on our side of the store.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers