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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Love of music keeps Jeffries moving forward

Sunday, October 31, 2010

(Photo)
Ric Jeffries has owned and operated RJ's Formal Wear for 25 years. [Order this photo]
Twenty-five years.

That's how long RJ's Formal Wear has existed in Brazil.

Owner Ric Jeffries is quite proud of having the same business in operation for that period of time.

"We're lucky," Jeffries said. "I've had a lot of good people work for me."

He's also proud of his limousine service -- Luxury Limousine Service -- he has offered in the county since 1995. The same service that has driven around the likes of Neal McCoy, Charlie Daniels and actress Jeanne Cooper (Katherine Chancellor of the Young and the Restless).

Despite being a success in business, Jeffries' passion is what motivates him.

Music.

Jeffries, a keyboard player, has played music for as long as he can remember. The Brazil High School graduate played in a band with Henry Lee Summer at one point.

Jeffries always had aspirations of taking his music career further than area performances. But he always had something to fall back on.

His family was in the retail business early on and -- after deciding not to pursue the career with Summer -- he stepped in to work with the family.

"We were going to leave one night," Jeffries said. "He did. I didn't. My stuff was already loaded. I didn't go."

The band was called Good Feelings. He was also in a band with Summer -- then known as Henry Swartz -- called The Main Thing.

After owning a slew of different retail stores in Rockville and Greencastle, along with working through his family's business, Jeffries struck out on his own in 1985, opening RJ's Formal Wear. The business was initially a tuxedo operation, but he soon added dresses and more.

Eventually, tanning beds were added.

Things were going just fine until September 2002, when the building the store was originally in burned to the ground.

However, Jeffries moved his business one block east on United States 40 and has continued to thrive.

Jeffries said he received a phone call from his brother about the fire that evening and even though the business has evolved and moved ahead, he believes things have not been the same since that evening.

"Business is good, but I don't think we ever got over the fire," he said. "The fire took it all. We were in that building for 17 years. We started there.

"But people are still going to get married."

Like Ric was with his family, his son J.T. has taken an interest in the family business recently.

"He spent most of the summer working with me," Ric said. "We have been truly blessed by family and friends, everyone in my family, including my grandmother, nieces and nephews, have helped out in some way or another."

He said his mother has also worked in the store and believes she hasn't missed a prom season in "25 years."

Ric admitted the business has allowed him to focus on his passion and added his current band will record a CD later this year.

"I use the store to support (music)," he said.