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.