Nostalgic types might call the sale of a ninety-five-year-old family-owned store like Moe Sport Shops to a nine-year-old sports apparel chain store the end of an era. Longtime owners Bud VanDeWege and his son Bud VanDeWege, Jr., don’t agree, and neither do new owners Ryan Gregg and Rishi Narayan.
They think of it as more like the passing of the torch. “Ryan and Rishi have been wonderful. They’re good guys,” VanDeWege, Jr., says. “We were so, so happy that they wanted to keep the name and keep on the great tradition we’d established.”
Gregg echoes that sentiment. He and Narayan shopped at Moe when they were students at the U-M a decade ago, he says, because “we always liked their stuff the best of anywhere on campus.” Underground Printing, the silkscreen T-shirt business they founded in their West Quad dorm room in 2001, has since grown to fourteen locations in eight states, including their flagship store on South University.
Founded on North University by George J. Moe back in 1915, Moe’s was eventually sold to Harold S. Trick, who in turn sold it to VanDeWege in 1971, who handed the reins over to his son in 1992.
VanDeWege, Jr., says the family wasn’t actively looking to sell the business. But he never planned to spend the rest of his life running the store, and since 2005 he’s worked as a sales rep for ASICS America Corporation, best known for high-performance running shoes. Eventually the strain of juggling two jobs began to tell, he says, so when Underground Printing came calling, “it was really just kind of fate and destiny putting people together at the right time for both of them.”
“It’s still Moe’s, it’s still what they helped build,” Gregg says. “So we wanted to really hold onto that and continue to maintain it. Hopefully, we can keep moving it forward into the next generation.”
Moe Sport Shops, 711 North University. 668-6915. Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. moesportshops.com
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