Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Saturday, October 28, 2006

"Long-standing downtown Pullman business ready to close its doors"

More on Ken Vogel Clothing closing from today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Ken Vogel Clothing has been part of Main St. scene for past 24 years

Ken Vogel says he has got to keep a smile on his face even as he prepares to close his Pullman store.

After 24 years in business, Ken Vogel Clothing opened its doors Thursday and surprised shoppers with signs for a going-out-of-business sale.

“I’ve had people in tears already,” Vogel said.

He said the response has been uplifting, but it doesn’t change his plans to close. The long-standing business will continue operating until its final day on Dec. 24.

“Oct. 26, 2006 is the day that will live in infamy,” he said with a laugh for his friends in the historical society.

Fritz Hughes, executive director of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, was among those who had heard the fast-spreading news.

“It’s sad to see it go,” he said. “It’s been a tradition in the Pullman community. I know a lot of people who shop there will sorely miss him.”

Hughes said the store was a landmark in the city’s retail business, and Vogel himself was a character that “added some life and enlightenment” to the downtown.

“(Vogel) had really met a need for people in the community and he will be missed,” Hughes said.

Mitch Chandler, the owner of Neill’s Flowers and Gifts, said it’s very rough any time the downtown loses what he considers a main retailer.

“It’s a sad issue, but it’s part of the economic times,” he said.

Hughes said retail businesses have faced increases in online and catalog shopping, but the downtown had remained relatively stable with little turnover for the past year.

Chandler predicts the loss of Vogel’s store will decrease foot traffic for the neighboring and remaining businesses.

Hughes said there are high hopes for the business that takes over the Vogel storefront, which is in a building owned by Pullman couple Matthew Tedder and Moon Lee.

Hughes said a restaurant is expected to move into the location next year.

“We just hope that somebody will come into the community that will have a clothing business to fill that void, but it will be very difficult to fill ‘Ken Vogel,’ ” Hughes said. “Maybe you could have a store, but it’d be very difficult to find anyone like that.”

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