Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Luden's Outfitters closing

Since I, like most superstar bloggers, am awesome at breaking news stories before they come to the attention of the masses, I thought I would inform you that Luden's Outfitters down in Charleston is closing its doors after 140 years. I found this out last week on a forum that I occasionally post on, but you may have actually read about it in the Post & Courier article that was published back on April 6th.

For those who are unfamiliar with Luden's, it is a store down in Charleston where one might go to buy some waders, a kayak, a bow tie or a Barbour jacket. It's a little off the beaten path (i.e.- not right on King Street or the touristy part of East Bay Street), but worth visiting before they close the doors. While the article does a pretty good job explaining about the history of the store, I think that for a lot of Charlestonians it represented one of the things about the city that didn't change, no matter how many million dollar condos were built or how many Ohioans flooded the city.

Upon hearing about the closing, I asked one of my classmates, practicum teammates, Charleston native, and all-round badass, Charles Fitzhenry (pictured adjacent) if he had heard the news. He said that he had and had gone in there the day that their "Going out of business" sale started. In talking with one of the guys there, he was told that their landlord jacked up the rent on their lease and that they couldn't afford it (seemed to me like kind of a strange reason to completely go out of business). Anyways, the guy said that they were going to kind of see where things go with the economy and maybe open it back up again when things get better. This is all secondhand information, though, so take it for what it's worth.

Although I was disappointed to hear that Luden's won't be around any longer, I can't say that I was completely shocked by the news. At least in Charleston, if not everywhere else, I think that the outfitter/clothing store model is becoming increasingly difficult to pull off. Because there are so many retail options out there, especially with the internet, there doesn't seem to be much need for a store to be a "pretty good" outfitter and a "pretty good" clothing store (which I think would pretty accurately describe Luden's). These companies need to choose one or the other and be "really good" at whichever they pick. An example of this in Charleston is M. Dumas & Sons. From what I understand, they used to be much more of an outfitter than they are today, but they seem to have really minimized that portion of their store and are now mostly sell preppy clothing to tourists (which is a great market). To some extend, I feel that LL Bean also falls into this category.

Anyways, although I only visited Luden's twice, I am sad that I won't be able to drop in there next time I am down in Charleston (nor be able to pick up a belt with their logo on it).


LowcountryBoil said...

Nice blog. A Trip down south readers heard you were at the Blockhouse last weekend and want an update as to the general preppiness of the race.

The Blushing Hostess said...

M. Dumas has become a bit of a mash of Vineyard Vines and who knows what else because it is not that appealing to spend time in at a visual level which may be why it still appeals to my Husband - there is nothing trendy about the place itself... but there will, I can only hope, a lways be Ben Silver there. Be well.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Luden's has never been "pretty good" as an outfitter or clothing store, but excellent at BOTH!! As the gentleman in the Post-Courier article stated, the clothing were made and labeled for Luden's and were excellent.

Also, Luden's is the ONLY place we've been able to buy ORIGINAL Docksider shoes for yearssss! I'm not talking Sperry Topsiders, or other cheap imitations, but the ORIGINAL, 100% leather, Docksiders EXACTLY as they were made in the '70s & '80s. You can't find them anywhere, including online, but Luden's has them!

Yea, M. Dumas is just a pretty clothing store now.