Southern Utah News Articles
With Aikens - it's all in the family
“We’re bringing a fresh pair of eyes to Duke’s and the Kanab business community,” said Ben Aiken. He and wife Jennifer worked at Duke’s for two years before they bought the successful clothing store from father Sam and mother Cindy Aiken.
The store’s early history was as a general mercantile store that carried an interesting variety of offerings, including fabric and meat! In the late 1950’s Grandpa Duke bought the place from a Mr. Ackerman, and turned it into a clothing store. Sam and Cindy moved back to Kanab and ran it for Grandpa Duke for about 10 years before buying it themselves.
Jennifer and Ben moved back to Kanab after earning college degrees; Ben in finance and Jennifer in accounting. The young couple both enjoyed successful early careers in San Francisco and Salt Lake.
They married in 2006, after meeting on an LDS dating site. “The magic was that it felt like we knew each other,” said Jennifer of the essay-style questions asked as part of the site.” Through the written word they began falling in love, and Ben moved to California a month before the wedding to be with her. They both took jobs in Salt Lake in 2007.
“When mom and dad got called on a mission to Canada, we decided to move back and help out,” explained Ben, adding they subsequently purchased Duke’s from his parents.
The friendly couple bring a lot of good energy to the Kanab business scene. “I love this area,” admitted Ben with a smile. “I love the small town feeling.”
“It was different at first for me,” said Jennifer, of the move to such a small rural town. “But I’m loving it now, and feel spoiled to live in such a beautiful place.”
Sam and Cindy, as well as the younger Aikens, have discovered an excellent clientele in tourists and specifically, Europeans. The name brands carried are often a bargain to the foreign tourists.
“The challenge is keeping it fresh,” said Jennifer, of the Duke’s Clothing inventory. She added that in the spring, they will begin carrying the Hurley brand. “We’re trying to primarily bring brands that make you feel and look good and also bring in some brands that are made in the USA.”
“Probably the biggest challenge (financially) is surviving the winter,” said Ben. “But we’ve had more and more locals shopping here, which helps. We’ve had a great response to the local discount we give.”
Ben and Jennifer, and their two daughters (four and 18 months), are enjoying life in Kanab. Stop in and say hello to them at Duke’s Clothing, 39 West Center Street in Kanab.