When Roger Pothus named his clothing store Renaissance in the early 1970s, he probably didn’t realize how apt the name would be: he has been revamping his store at regular intervals ever since. In forty-five years, he’s had five locations–two on Maynard, then at Main and William, up to Division, and now back to Main. Each iteration has had its own personality as it adapted to its era and neighborhood.

The latest one opened in late spring in the Pratt Block, one of the crown jewels of Main St. Long ago it was Kline’s department store, and now that Pothus has moved in, with his store split into separate spaces for men and women, “the entire building is almost like a department store again.”

Independent downtown department stores these days are almost extinct, but Pothus insists this is a close substitute: “Look around you. There’s the women’s department [Renaissance for women] on the main floor, the men’s store on the lower level”–do not call it the basement within earshot of Pothus. “Lily Grace and the WSG Gallery also on the main floor, and Chris Petersen’s Jewelry and Lily Grace’s spa on the lower level.”

Before Renaissance, Pothus opened a franchise of a national chain, Paraphernalia, on State St.–“a junior women’s store selling white vinyl go-go boots, bell-bottoms, Sgt. Pepper dresses.” He eventually developed a loathing for Paraphernalia’s main selling point: cheap trendiness. He started Renaissance as an antidote: “quality, elegance, and fashion, in that order,” and he stuck to it. “When grunge came along, that was something we sort of skipped.”

In the men’s shop, he showed off how quality, elegance, and fashion currently translates in menswear: “Meyer pants from Germany, kind of a cross between jeans and dress pants with some stretch, so they’re comfortable,” worn with an unstructured linen jacket. “People are starting to dress up again, particularly the younger generation. You can catch them lots of nights at Aventura or Sava’s. They’re not so much into the super-casual anymore.” In the women’s store, where Busy Hands used to be, he sells comparable impeccably styled women’s brands.

Pothus has mentored and provided real-world business experience to dozens of U-M Ross business school students. “They learn the difference between an order, a packing list, and an invoice. Now there’s something you don’t learn in business school, oddly enough.” (Asked how he finds his interns, he reveals his foolproof trick: “Their first task is their last task: ‘replace yourself.’ From the first day they’re here, they’ve got to be on the lookout” for the next brilliant and dependable intern.)

Though it’s not obvious to a casual window-shopper, Renaissance does quite a bit of its business in made-to-measure suits, sports jackets, pants, and overcoats. “Depending on price point, they’re made in the U.S. or Italy. Or we can do total custom work. The custom orders are made in the U.S.A., but guy that does it is Italian.”

Pothus is a passionate believer in locally owned businesses. “We can do things that Nordstrom can’t do. I’ll come in at seven in the morning [to meet a customer]. Will Nordstrom do that for you?”

Renaissance, 306 S. Main, 769-8511. Tues-Thurs. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m. Closed Mon. renaissanceannarbor.com