Chain Stores in Flux
What's next for Moosejaw and American Apparel?
by Sally Mitani
From the April, 2017 issue
Few chain stores have broken into Ann Arbor's downtown, which gets much of its cachet from maintaining a large population of locally owned indies. Moosejaw and American Apparel are two of the exceptions, but now both are going through large changes at the corporate level.
Moosejaw--purveyor of prestige brands of outdoor wear and gear like North Face, Marmot, and Patagonia--was bought out by Walmart. Coincidentally, Moosejaw's Main St. building also recently changed hands. It is now owned by WSSA, a large property owner with holdings across the country but with very local roots: WSSA's founder and managing partner, Troy Farah, is the nephew of entrepreneurial dentist John Farah and cousin to filmmakers Christopher and Mike Farah.
Reached by phone in his Flint office, Farah says his company bought the Moosejaw building, the building to the south, and the Jimmy Johns building at State and William in 2015.
What does the sale to Walmart mean for Moosejaw's future? "If it's going anywhere, they haven't informed us," Farah says. "Will you let us know if you hear anything?"
As for American Apparel, it will eventually close--the proudly made-in-America brand was wrested away from creepster founder Dov Charney (and you don't need to go to the tabloids to get the details--see, for instance, the New Yorker, June 26, 2014), but after trying to quietly carry on without Charney's bizarre but apparently real talents, the company assets were bought by Gildan, a more prosaic manufacturer of socks sold in drugstores everywhere.
Jim Chaconas of Colliers real estate says he thinks our local American Apparel will be open for awhile "because it makes money." The address isn't listed yet, with either him or anyone. Employees are staying mum, but Chaconas may be right: despite the "40% Off" signs in the window, in late February boxes of new merchandise had just arrived and were stacked to the ceiling.
[Originally published in April, 2017.]
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