Stuart Marley sounds delighted that Redden is taking over the digs his Real Irish shop had occupied since 2018.
The change gives Marley an opportunity to take a break from the retail operation to focus on his web business, resume the tours he gives in Ireland, and attend Celtic fairs across North America this summer.
“I’ve been online for seventeen years, and that’s where I wanted to focus my attention and give someone else an opportunity on Fourth Avenue,” Marley says. “I’m busy enough, to be honest.”
However, Marley, who was born in Wales (Marketplace Changes, January 2019), is planning to relaunch a retail shop sometime in the fall.
The next iteration of Real Irish is likely to be on Ann Arbor’s south side and will be about half the size of the most recent store. He expects to be open by Christmas but isn’t offering any more details. “There’s no point in having people look for us before we’re there,” he says.
Marley closed the store for several months in 2020 due to Covid restrictions and says the time away allowed him to streamline his product line and selling processes. Once back, he found that “retail just wasn’t the same” and that given slower pandemic sales, he could do just as well online.
Although his catalog is dominated by hats, caps, and wraps, his best-selling items come from the Inis fragrance line, a unisex scent which touts itself as offering the “energy of the sea.” The options include body scrub, hand lotion, candles, and cologne.
The store also does a strong business in colorful Harris tweed items from Scotland, such as purses, tote bags, and wallets.
Marley doesn’t think his Ann Arbor customers will suffer from his shop’s physical absence—in fact, much of his mail-order business is from people with Ann Arbor zip codes.
“If they order today, people will get them tomorrow. It’s more convenient than coming downtown,” Marley says.