City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Operation Gentleman Is Where Service Meets Style

The non-profit dresses and cares for veterans looking to make a new start in life. 

As Bill Cunningham once said, “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.” And no one knows the power of armor or the reality of returning to everyday life than someone who has served our country in the armed forces.

Ben Davis, the founder of The Gent’s Place, an upscale grooming establishment for men, comes from a long line of those who served in the military. His father and grandfather were in the Airforce and his brother is in the Navy, so service has always been important in his life. In 2017, he decided he wanted to do something for veterans, and a suit drive popped up as an option. Naturally, he wondered how The Gent’s Place could be involved. “All our guests are well dressed, and this idea immediately caught on. We asked members, and the dialogue gave us the confidence to do the drive. Some had several suits they no longer wore or longer fit, and they were happy to donate,” says Davis. 

This first drive collected suits from all over the country and was a huge success. Now an annual event under Operation Gentleman, it is estimated over 10 thousand suits and 20 thousand pieces of business wear have been collected for veterans transitioning from military to civilian life, with donations coming from everywhere, including locations with no brick-and-mortar locations of The Gent’s Place. “It’s evolved. It started with our members and has grown to include donations from former Cowboys player Charles Haley, friends of members, and even wives of members who donate businesswear for female veterans. Huge companies have donated clothing as well,” says Davis. 

The suit drive runs from Sept. 1 - Sept. 30 every year and collects items, including suits, ties, belts, shoes, shirts, cuff links, and more, which get shipped to the distribution center to be sorted by size. Then, just in time for Veteran’s Day in November, volunteers head for the Soldier Recovery Unit at Fort Hood, TX, where military veterans being discharged and dealing with life-altering issues such as amputation, PTSD, and depression, can ‘shop’ an event that feels like spending an afternoon at Neiman Marcus. 

Team members act as personal shoppers to the veterans, partners have donated shaving cream and hair pomade, and as a special touch, Operation Gentleman has produced a book filled with positive comments, business cards, inspiring quotes, job leads, and other helpful tips that serve as yet another way to boost a veteran’s outlook on transitioning to civilian life. 

“We realized that we’re giving a lot of these men and women confidence and belief in themselves. The clothing is great, but the emotions we’re giving them through the experience are the value we’re providing,” says Davis. 

Since starting the suit drive, Davis has continued to help veterans. When you purchase a membership at The Gent’s Place, you feed a homeless veteran, and according to Davis, 40 thousand meals have been donated so far. Davis says, “Each club has a meal count board. Our goal is to get to 100 thousand meals in 2023. We’re always trying to figure out how to collect a bit of money to collect a meal.” 

Operation Gentleman also arranges a bi-monthly Haircuts for Our Homeless event at the Austin Street Center, a homeless and rehabilitation center in downtown Dallas. Over 2000 services have been given to those experiencing homelessness since the pop-up barbershop started.

When I asked Davis where he sees Operation Gentleman going, he told me that he sees an opportunity to reach other veterans at bases all across the United States. He also hopes to expand Operation Gentleman’s partnerships to include other barber shops and retail stores. 

There are currently 12 locations of The Gent’s Place. It’s where connections happen; guests gain more confidence and empowerment and walk out the door feeling more positive. “I hated getting my haircut. I wanted a place I wanted to go. And now, The Gent’s Place is much more than a service. We offer shoe shines, events, a member lounge, a cigar patio, and a full-service bar. It’s a place where like-minded people can network. The haircut is just the vehicle that gets someone in the door,” says Davis.

It’s clear that Davis has taken his passion and the mindset of The Gent’s Place and put it to work helping veterans get a fresh start in life. To check out their services or get a membership, head to the Fort Worth location at 2300 West 7th St., Suite 126.