A Brief History of McGrews
McGrews opened its Salt Lake City doors to the public in 2001, in Art Space’s original downtown building on Pierpont Avenue.
From a mere 300 square foot upstairs loft, the outfit has expanded to a more than 3000 square foot storefront (and for particular projects – up to 10,000 feet) of workshops and showroom space. From its beginnings as a sole proprietorship, it’s now run by several designers and their artisan staff plus at least three college or high school interns every semester.
The picture to the right shows what the storefront looked like in 2010, prior to a major remodel.
A neighborhood focal point, McGrews has added appeal and magic to Pierpont Avenue and its downtown area.
The shop, its staff and friends have played host, formally and casually, to the many gallery strollers, tourists, photographers, journalists and adventurers who’ve perused the block’s interesting features.
As a cultural anchor the shop has provided a hub for society’s movers. At special gallery events, meetings and impromptu get-togethers, celebrities, artists, composers, authors, chefs and politicians have been in our midst. Many citizens have stopped by over the years to chat about the news of the day, their current projects, or even 18th century tailoring.
The personal and professional paths of many people have intersected and shifted course within our shop.
And for over fourteen years, the shop’s clients and projects have included everyone and everything imaginable, from films and plays to political campaigns, dance productions and pets.
December 2015 ended with McGrews (plus 99% of Pierpont Avenue’s other tenants) moving out! We moved nearly fifteen years worth of collected materials, tools, costumes, props and fixtures, and it was quite an ordeal! The historic building we occupied for so long was purchased earlier in 2015 by out-of-town investors who more than quadrupled the rents…. and so goes the timeless tale of gentrification.
Our designers and crew are enthusiastic about our NEW location in Salt Lake’s Granary District.
Our new, larger space will allow us to build larger entertainment productions as well as host guest designers, workshops and events. We will be open by appointment only as we remodel our space.
We look forward to hosting a big open-house once our space takes shape. We will send invitations to our clients, collaborators and vendors plus announce events through social media channels.
Regardless of where we are located (sometimes we rent extra space to work on enormous projects and sometimes we take our work home with us), the view shared by everyone on our main collaborative team is that each project and each performative event deserves excellence in its form and function, engineering and execution, tailoring and fit. That’s the way it is with this bunch.
Naturally, there are many good stories about how everyone met one another and decided to join forces. Jen, however, scolds that “collaboration” is the wrong word, that collaboration is something college students get forced to do in ‘group work.’ In the real world, she says, the discriminating and determined among us get to choose our associates and co-creators.
Pierpont shop location undergoing a big remodel!
To the right is Jennifer McGrew, who started sewing and building costumes at around age nine.
Forty-some years later, she still hasn’t kicked this habit.
In fact, for decades she has indoctrinated many others- friends and collaborators as well as staff, colleagues, interns, clients and the public into adopting her peculiar world view that things should be made beautifully and with quality. She is something of a sartorial tyrant on these particular matters. But it is also widely known that she is a warm friend, a fierce ally, a mentor and cheerleader to many.
Prior to returning to Utah in 2001, she had lived on both coasts and worked at several regional performing arts companies. She built, designed and managed wardrobe, crews, and clients for their productions plus for other professional organizations. She even completed two graduate degrees and taught college courses for fifteen years.
If you’re into seeing highlights from our professional resumes, there is more to see and know about us on our social media sites plus on IMDB and LinkedIn, etc.