The opening of a formal wear shop was the idea of Janie K. Ohler, even though she had no experience in retail.
Naming the business involved Ohler’s two youngest daughters. The daughters, Marcy Lynn and Jan Karena, planned on designing clothing for a future career when they were but 10 and 12 years old. They combined their middle names to form Larenas. Ohler liked the name and decided to use it. She laughed, “People have called me Larena for years. I just answer them.”
Originally called “LaRena’s Bridal & Formal Wear”, the business first opened in the former Penn Furniture building (102 E. Main St.) on the diamond in uptown Somerset in October, 1983. Ohler offered “It was a good place to start. The large windows attracted a lot of attention. During parades, I would have live automated mannequins stand in for the dummies. People would often stop in just to see if the people were real.”
The business did well by offering personal service, a large selection and low prices.
A move to 1854 North Center Avenue, Somerset in 1989 happened after a new addition to Ohler’s husband’s business was built for the shop. It offered plenty of store front parking on a high traffic road (even though Lowe’s and Walmart were not yet in the area.)
Ohler’s first official employee was also her first grandchild. Jenna (Weigle) Hay joined Larenas in 2009 and continues to help out during prom season as needed.
In 2011, Ohler’s daughter Marcy McVicker left her full time job to manage Larenas. She had been a part of Larenas in various aspects for years including website development and marketing.
The year 2011 also brought the opening of a seasonal prom gown and tuxedo rental store at the Galleria in Johnstown, PA.
On Friday, February 1, 2013 Ohler stepped away as her daughter Marcy McVicker assumed ownership of the business. The name of the business was shortened and changed at this point to Larenas.
Ohler said she plans to help out during prom season, but she also has plans to travel during her retirement.
On November 2, 2015, Larenas moved to a larger 3500 sq. ft. location at 312 Georgian Place, Somerset.
“It’s by the grace of God that Larenas has thrived,” said McVicker. “Part of that is the support of our fabulous customers over the years.”
Through the years, four generations have worked to make Larenas a success~ from building to managing to helping customers and more.