The former Steve and Barry’s storefront on State Street won’t be vacant for long. M-Den, the locally owned retailer of University apparel and souvenirs, officially took possession of the building Jan. 5 — two days after Steve and Barry’s closed its doors.
A number of businesses, including CVS Pharmacy, were interested in the location according to Ed Davidson, the building’s landlord. Despite other offers, Davidson said he only considered M-Den for the space.
“There was no contest,” Davidson said in an e-mail. “I thought M-Den was the best fit and called them early on.”
Davidson said he first contacted M-Den about the space after Steve and Barry’s national chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July. When the retailer filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in November — effectively shutting down the company — Davidson said M-Den made plans to move in.
Though M-Den officially took possession of the property on Monday, plans for the space haven’t been solidified, said Doug Horning, a spokesman for M-Den.
Details regarding renovations and an official opening day for the store will be released at a later date, Horning said in an e-mail.
The new store will be the latest addition to Ann Arbor M-Den locations, with one on Main Street and another in Briarwood Mall. The State Street M-Den location will compete for customers in the market for University gear with Great Lakes Team Apparel and Moe’s Sport Shops, both located nearby.
Robert Duerksen, owner of Great Lakes Team Apparel, said the new M-Den came as a surprise. Though he said it would have been nice to have one less competitor on the block, Duerksen said he suspected his store would fill the void in low-cost apparel left by Steve and Barry’s — formerly his biggest rival, he said.
“I think we’ll become the place for that value-conscious customer looking for a $10 tee,” Duerksen said.
But despite a slow economy and a handful of competitors within walking distance of his store, Duerksen said he thinks there will be enough customers to support all the local retailers that sell University apparel.
“We’ll all still survive,” Duerksen said. “But in this economy we have to become more lean in each and every way that we can.”
At Moe’s Sport Shops, which sells the same Adidas and official University apparel carried by M-Den, store manager Drew Christensen said it’s too early to tell what kind of impact the new competition will have.
Christensen said he had his fingers crossed that a rival retailer wouldn’t fill the Steve and Barry’s vacancy. He added, though, that his store already has a good working relationship with M-Den and that the two regularly refer customers back and forth.
Though the two stores sell the same name brand apparel and target the same shoppers, Christensen said Moe’s would find a way to remain competitive in the local retail market.
“We’ve been here since 1915 and we’ve seen companies come and go,” Christensen said. “We always find a way to adapt, and Moe’s will find a way to adapt to this change.”