Ramblers Way opens in Hanover

by Alex Fredman | 1/6/17 1:46am


Ramblers Way chose to open its second retail store in Hanover. Its flagship store is located in Kennewick, Maine.

Ramblers Way, a new retail clothing store opening in downtown Hanover, offers a unique range of clothing options while maintaining an eco-friendly business model. The store opened its doors last month at 37 South Main Street.

Headquartered in Kennebunk, Maine, Ramblers Way offers premium, sustainably-produced clothing for men and women. The new Hanover store is only the second retail shop opened by Ramblers Way.

Ramblers Way brands itself as an “ethically sourced” clothing company, which lays the foundation for the company’s distinct product options. According to founder and owner of Ramblers Way Tom Chappell, ethical sourcing refers to both the purchasing of wool extracted humanely from animals and purchasing only from suppliers that treat employees well, such as providing them with a living wage.

“Ethically sourcing our materials is part of our core values as a company,” Chappell said in an email statement.

In addition to being ethically sourced, Ramblers Way is 100 percent sustainable and American-made. All steps in the production process are done in the United States and as close to New England as possible, according to Chappell. Also, all aspects of the supply chain meet strict environmental standards, such as the exclusion of synthetic materials and genetically modified organisms.

“We start with the raw wool, make the fabrics and then create the garments,” store manager Joseph Crane said. “It’s an all-inclusive company.”

Ramblers Way offers clothing sourced from Rambouillet Merino wool and Pima cotton and features a variety of styles that can be worn in business and outdoor settings.

“We’re able to meet a lot of needs in a small shop in a small town,” Crane said.

All of the clothing produced are long-lasting and biodegradable, lending itself to the company’s sustainability efforts, according to vice president of retail operations for Ramblers Way and designer Eliza Chappell, who is Tom Chappell’s daughter.

She said that Ramblers Way clothing is designed with sustainability in mind; the result is premium products with reduced wasted material. For example, a t-shirt with a seam down the middle can be produced with less material than a normal shirt while still maintaining an aesthetically-pleasing look, Chappell added.

Ramblers Way was founded in 2007 as a mail-order company, and until the recent opening of the Hanover store, only featured one retail store in Kennebunk. The company was created by Chappell and his wife Kate. He formulated the idea after looking for clothing that fit specific performance needs but had minimal environmental impacts.

Before starting Ramblers Way, Chappell ran a personal care products company called Tom’s of Maine, which was sold to Colgate in 2006 for $100 million.

The establishment of the Hanover retail store is the first step in a major expansionary period for Ramblers Way. The company will open another new retail store in Portsmouth, New Hampshire next month and plans on opening stores in Portland, Maine, Cambridge, Massachusetts and West Hartford, Connecticut later this year. In the next five years, Ramblers Way seeks to open 30 new stores in the U.S., according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Ramblers Way’s push toward more retail stores is intended to foster more personal customer service by allowing customers to see products themselves, Chappell said. He added that the retail stores offer a better opportunity to explain the company’s sustainable model to customers.

Ramblers Way represents an intriguing model of retail stores unique to downtown Hanover, said Hanover town manager Julia Griffin.

“We have a number of other high-end retailers that are selling high-quality clothing, but not with this kind of sustainability focus,” she said. “Because Hanover is really focused on sustainability, and has been for years on a number of fronts, this is a neat new business to welcome to the downtown lineup.”

Griffin said the space the new store is occupying had been empty for some time and Ramblers Way is a major addition to a particularly strategic location in town.

“We’re anxious to have them land happily in Hanover and thrive here,” she said.

The choice of Hanover as the location for a new retail store was not a difficult decision for Ramblers Way.

“We knew the town and knew that it would be a good, diverse clientele for us,” Crane said.

Chappell has had a long-standing relationship with Hanover, serving as Dartmouth’s first Dorsett-Cottrell Fellow in Applied and Professional Ethics.

“We hope to have a great relationship with the College, students and faculty,” Crane said.

Correction appended (Jan. 6, 2017):

The original version of this article incorrectly stated that the Portsmouth, New Hampshire store was already open. This error has been corrected to reflect that the store will open next month.