We have no shortage of retailers who've branched out to open stores after stints in unrelated fields. Josh Guillory spent most of his professional life running his own iron shop, crafting beautiful custom metalwork for residential clients around town and beyond; but when the bug hit to open up a menswear shop, he didn't shut the other business down. Iron Shop Provisions in Lake Charles, LA opened up just under two years ago in an old 66 Gas Station from the 50's which still carries much of the character from its former life. In the middle of the store is an old windowed garage door that gives a view into Josh's still burgeoning ironwork business, "Custom Iron by Josh." It's in this very shop that Josh and his small team of metalworkers custom built all the shop fixtures down to the hangers in house. Iron Shop Provisions is an embodiment of Josh's first business and the parallels are clear: they're making custom home fixtures that will last a lifetime in the back, and selling clothes that will get better with age in the front.
How long have you been in metalwork and how did you get started?
My passion for metalwork started early in high school, when I began working on low riders and custom cars. After high school, I welded in the oil field until 2004 and then I left to start my business, Custom Iron by Josh, a custom welding and blacksmith shop. I love having the ability to design, create and provide something to our community. I specialize in creating driveway gates and interior staircases.
What prompted you and your wife Erin to take the leap into opening up a retail shop?
First, I love clothing. Second, I wanted to have a clothing store in my home town. One day Erin and I were shopping at one of our favorite men’s boutiques in Houston and I jokingly mentioned the idea to her and she was on board. We started with brands that I have always loved, 3sixteen being one of them, and we just grew it from there. It’s very satisfying to offer men in our community quality clothing, it’s a similar feeling to when I produce a quality piece of ironwork for someone’s home.
Tell us a bit more about your hometown, Lake Charles. What do you love about it?
It’s honestly the perfect size town for a young entrepreneur. Lake Charles really has a small-town feel despite its rapid growth. The hospitality, events and food makes this city one of a kind.
What are some things you learned from running the first business that you’ve been able to apply to the retail side? How are things different?
Running Custom Iron by Josh for the past 15 years has taught me how to connect with customers and grow relationships, and that has been something I’ve been able to directly apply to our Iron Shop Provision customers. The thing that has taken some adjustment has been our retail hours. With CIBJ we could always close down if we needed to and work from home or on the road. However, with Iron Shop Provisions you really have to be open 5-6 days a week for 8 hours a day; even if it’s raining cats and dogs outside, your storefront has to be open.
Left to right: Josh Guillory, Erin and Paxton Guillory, Nick Lee (sales), Katie Chesson (barber)
What are some local businesses that you love to support?
There are so many great places that have been popping up recently. We love frequenting the downtown ones due to convenience and the downtown atmosphere. Some great ones are The Bekery, Calla, 1910, Chris Brennan Photography, Acadian Roasters, and Panorama Music House.
Iron Shop Provisions
625 Broad St
Lake Charles, LA 70601