From beard oil to botanicals, Salem business owner expands into clothing

Aaron Naden stands in front of button-down shirts in his new store Capitol Menswear. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)

When Aaron Naden got married last year, three guys showed up to his wedding in the same Hawaiian shirt from Target.

“That’s the struggle in Salem,” Naden said, referring to the dearth of men’s clothing stores.

A month and a half ago, Naden opened Capitol Menswear to alleviate that struggle.

He said the store sells casual menswear. There are sweatshirts and graphic tees alongside button downs and products from his Bearded Oregon line in the former salon.

“So, it’s not going to be like dressy-type things. It’s more like you can wear it to a wedding but you can also wear it out on the town just for a fun night out or relaxing day off,” he said.

Naden said he plans to keep things on rotation in the store, located inside the Reed Opera House, and be open seven days a week, so that people don’t run into the Target problem. 

Naden started Bearded Oregon five years ago and opened a brick-and-mortar shop in the Reed Opera House in March 2020 to sell his products, like beard oil and soaps.

He said women were coming into Bearded Oregon to buy products for men with beards, but also wanted something for themselves.

Naden said people would come in confused about whether he was selling beard soap or body soap.

“We wanted a store that was not bearded at all,” he said.

That led him to opening Capitol Apothecary in August and moving the beard products into the new menswear store.

The menswear store is just around the corner inside the Reed building, situated next to hat shop Hattawear.

The apothecary is now in the former Bearded Oregon space which faces the sidewalk on 189 Liberty St. N.E. and sits next to the Little Cannoli Bakery. Inside the small space, he offers skincare, essential oils and other beauty products that cater to bare-faced people as well as those with facial hair.

Naden and his husband, Clayton Riley, who owns nearby Flowers in the Alley, make some of the skincare products under the Venture Out name. The toner is infused with tea leaves from Ecuador.

Naden said the beard store does well with online sales, which account for about 60% of his business.

He said that gave him confidence that if Covid restrictions clamped down again he would be fine even if he had to close one of his storefronts.

“I grew up in Salem and I just am optimistic that things will grow and get better. Knowing if I waited until it was safe to expand, it wouldn’t be a good deal and it would probably be snatched up already. We just have to take risks sometimes and trust that it will be alright,” he said. 

Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected].

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