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Meet the Merchant: Hugh Testerman with Blakley-Mitchell Clothing Company

April 17, 2019

Contributed by Teresa Tibol, TCI Group, Lowry & Foster, Inc. & Believe in Bristol Volunteer

For our first article of our Meet the Merchant segment, I was honored to interview Mr. Hugh Testerman, owner of Blakley-Mitchell Clothing Company in Downtown Bristol. He is such a genuine and honest person and he was one of the first people to allow me to interview him on the spot.

This store has such a deep history in Bristol, VA/TN. For just a quick summary of their history, it all started in the 1920's with two different stores, one in Tennessee, Smith-Blakley, and one in Virginia, Baker-Mitchell. Both on State Street, both clothing companies. Later, during the depression, the two stores combined to form Blakley-Mitchell. Ted Testerman, Hugh's father, worked for the store in 1954 and later purchased the store in 1973. Blakley-Mitchell has been in this specific location since 1962. Hugh has worked in the store for about 41 years before taking over the company after his fathers death in 2007, so this business has been in the family for a very long time. Blakley-Mitchell also has a store in Kingsport, TN,opened by his brother approximately 37 years ago.

We wanted to really get to know the merchants here in Downtown Bristol so we decided to ask them some fun questions for these segments. Obviously Hugh is a native to Bristol. He has a wife, Lynne, two sons, Hugh and Teddy, and a daughter, Lindsay. I was lucky enough to meet his oldest son, Hugh, working in the store the day of the interview. The family also has two cats and two dogs at home.Hugh also has some passions outside of Blakley-Mitchell. He enjoys hunting, fishing and racing. Specifically, NASCAR and Formula One. While his favorite outdoor spot is Laurel Fork in Hampton, TN, do not ask him to share his favorite fishing location — that is apparently a big secret, as is the same among most avid fisherman.

So instead, I also asked about his favorite local places to eat.While he said he likes to frequent all the downtown restaurants as often as he could, if he had to pick a favorite restaurant it
would be The Bristol Hotel or JFranks. As far as a favorite lunch spot, he said all of downtown, we are filled with a lot of great lunch spots and they are all equally as delicious.

It was a pleasure meeting Hugh. This store sells more than just clothes, they have ties, hats, shoes, underwear,custom fitted shirts, pants, suits and tailoring services.What a great place to find a gift for the man in your life or to get some help picking out the perfect combination of shirt and tie or sport coat or suit. Their customer service is top notch and is something they really pride themselves in. I encourage you to stop in and look around and say hello to Hugh!