After 103 years nestled between Thayer and State St. on North University, Moe Sports Shop closed its doors in early July.
The store was known as the birthplace of collegiate apparel, but it had been in flux since 2010, when its long-term owners sold it to Underground Printing. Last year, as part of a larger deal, Underground sold the store to its former competitor, the M Den. At the time, the M Den’s State St. store around the corner was under construction, so Moe was a way to maintain some of their sales.
M Den co-owner Scott Hirth says the decision to close the store was necessary. “Our State St. store is 25,000 square feet. Moe’s is less than three [thousand],” he says. “We left it up to the customer. If enough customers wanted to shop at Moe’s just because it was Moe’s, we gave it a shot.”
They didn’t, or at least not in sufficient numbers. Once the State St. M Den reopened, the need for a smaller secondary location was diminished.
“I think it’s important to understand that the Moe’s that we took over that year-and-a-half ago was not the Moe’s that everybody’s remembered through all the years,” says Hirth. “The business has just changed a great deal” since it was owned by the VanDeWege family. They returned all of the shop’s old memorabilia to the VanDeWeges, and Hirth says they are now weighing their options for what to do with the space.
They have a lot of other projects in the works: a new Victors Collection (their higher-end brand) attached to their Briarwood location; reopening their Main St. store when Reza Rahmani completes his new building on the site; and a new M Den in downtown Detroit.