Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ken Vogel Clothing Closing

On the radio this morning, it was announced that Ken Vogel Clothing in downtown Pullman is closing its doors and having a going-out-of-business sale

Vogel has been an outspoken critic of a Pullman Wal-Mart. According to the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, he says "a good Lutheran prayer every night that Wal-Mart goes under in my lifetime.”

It's unfortunate when any business in Pullman closes, particularly a downtown business. Instead of retail stores, we're getting places where you can sell your blood. Talk about Pottersville.

But let's get one thing clear. Whatever Vogel's reasons are for closing, it has nothing to do with a Pullman Wal-Mart. The Supercenter project here is still in legal limbo. No building permits have been issued and not one shovel of dirt has been turned. We're at least a year or more away from the store opening.

In the Daily News story, Vogel blamed some of his woes on the Moscow Wal-Mart, because people buy underwear, socks and belts cheaper there. He also feels that clothing manufacturers only want to deal with big-box chains as the public demands cheaper, disposable goods. If that is the case, blame the consumer, not Wal-Mart.

As I have stated before, I feel that part of Vogel's problem is that people dress more casually today than in previous times. Also, it can't help that Pullman residents spend 50 cents of every retail dollar somewhere else.

Vogel probably would have benefitted tremendously from Wal-Mart's presence in Pullman. Other retailers are scrambling to move into Pullman in advance of Wal-Mart. A mini-mall is being constructed in the old Penguin Plumbing and Electric building on North Grand and Duane Brelsford has just broken ground on another retail development on Bishop Boulevard.

Compare Vogel's comments with those of the owner of Creightons, a men's clothing store in Moscow that closed a year ago:
Nelson said a number of factors contributed to his decision to close the store, including the closure of Creightons for Women and the changing retail market.

As much as I love the store and the people, times have changed, he said. I thought it was better to own up to it than live in a dream world.
UDPATE: I have learned that Ken Vogel is calling it quits because he has concerns over odors coming from a new Thai restaurant (Thai again? Can't we get a good barbecue joing in Pullman?) opening next door in the old Simpflex Internet Cafe space and the fact that his wife is retiring next year.

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1 comment:

April E. Coggins said...

I will miss Ken Vogel in downtown Pullman. He is the last of a Pullman retail dynasty. He started as a clerk in the Empire department store (now the site of U.S. Bank) and ended in half of the former J.C. Penney building.
Floods will never be the same.