American Apparel closures set to leave another space on Broadway empty

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

There is about to be another empty commercial space on Broadway but this time the economic forces that are driving the closure extend well beyond Capitol Hill.

The American Apparel store at Broadway and John will be one of 110 stores across the country as well as its Los Angeles headquarters set to be shut down after the financially troubled retailer that was once valued at more than $1 billion was acquired in a bankruptcy sale earlier this month for $88 million.

“Founder Dov Charney charted a maverick path when he moved a nascent American Apparel to Los Angeles in 1997 and began manufacturing its cotton basics in the region,” the LA Times writes. “The company’s colorful garments and provocative advertising quickly caught on with young fashionistas.” But what followed was debt and, eventually, bankruptcy that left the dwindling chain unable to recover.

A call to the Broadway store didn’t reveal any information about the closure here on Capitol Hill with an employee informing CHS that no American Apparel employees are authorized to speak with the media. Industry analysts say the closures could happen within the week.

Full disclosure: CHS is still owed a few thousand for American Apparel advertising. Given the bankruptcy payment schedule, we don’t advise holding your breath waiting for the check.

The imminent American Apparel closure will follow the sudden shuttering of the overhauled Charlie’s earlier this month. Like the AA bankruptcy, the financial situation behind the restaurant was to blame.

The store’s space below four floors of apartments in the 1924-built Capitol Building would seem to be a valuable commodity. Across the street, thousands of riders using Capitol Hill Station seem like good targets to turn into customers. But the latest business to queue up a major investment near the station won’t be retail. Next to Dick’s Drive-in in the recently redeveloped Hollywood Lofts building, the Zoom+Care chain is plotting to open its second Broadway clinic. It neighbors candy chain Rocket and Fizz which opened last fall in the mixed-use building which incorporates a portion of the facade of the old Del Teet furniture store.

While ridership has boomed with the opening of Capitol Hill Station, the economic impact on the immediate neighborhood is less certain. As the new station opened, business owners said they were worried about rising rents and displacement just as Broadway survives and recovers from years of major construction.

A Pike/Pine closure, too
Another Capitol Hill fashion retailer — albeit, one with a much smaller economic footprint — has also shuttered. Fox + the Feather — born in 2015 as Haute Hibou — has closed its 11th Ave storefront. “thank you Capitol Hill, Love ya’ we O U T !” the message posted by the shop earlier this month reads.

We’ll follow up to see what else we can learn about the closure but in December CHS reported on Pike/Pine retail veteran Retrofit Home’s positive outlook after what they said had been a strong holiday season boosted by the neighborhood finally sloughing off years of closed sidewalks and streets around major construction sites.

In the meantime, Hill retail seems to have fostered a relatively strong scene for vintage and fashion shopping with higher end brands like Killion mixing with smaller concerns like Revival which, by the way, filled an empty slot on Broadway.

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17 thoughts on “American Apparel closures set to leave another space on Broadway empty

    • Not as in worry but as in “a matter of interest or importance to someone” — maybe not the best word in this particular article :)

    • It seems weird but it’s a correct use, just not common. As in a “business concern”. Probably more familiar if you grew up watching old movies or British TV.

      NOUN
      a commercial or manufacturing company or establishment:
      “the headquarters of an insurance concern.”

  1. My understanding is that the company declared bankruptcy and Amazon is trying to buy all the assets to start their own clothing product lines.

  2. How does any commercial space on Broadway stay vacant for very long? That street has gobs of foot traffic 18 hours a day, including noticeable bursts after every arriving Link train. I find the (now long term) empty Broadway Grille space to be especially perplexing. At this point, I would rather see a big national chain than a dark and foreboding stretch of sidewalk.

    • As a Broadway business owner, I would site two major factors:

      – Commercial rent is very, very expensive on Broadway. It’s hard to be moderately successful. You need to kill it or your chances of survival are slim given the overhead. It’s very difficult for independent business to get through the first 2 years because of this, too. Not much room for error. That’s why I fear you might get your wish w/ regard to national chains moving in.

      – Foot traffic isn’t as heavy as you might expect on Broadway. Especially during the weekdays and in cold/wet weather like we’ve been having this winter.

  3. The interwebs is killing brick and mortar stores. The Limited just shut all its stores as well. Get ready for many more retailer stop follow suit.

    The future of brick and mortar is slated for mostly food and beverage places and services that the online world cannot deliver such as haircuts and personal services.

    The future of Broadway for retailers is bleak.