A personal letter from Michael Druskin
Saturday, January 25, 2014
Dear Len Druskin Customers,
Just over 20 years ago when Len passed the torch to me to lead this company, I had no idea what was ahead of me on the path that he had blazed the previous 18 years since opening Len Druskin. Following in his footsteps would not be easy but I made a commitment to do my best to uphold the same standards, values and dedication to our customers, employees, and the community that he had so vigorously upheld throughout the years. I have done my best to steer the ship throughout the last 20 years in the right direction. I usually ask myself if Len would agree with my decision or I outline my thoughts and we work together to reach a mutual decision. Not every decision is easy, as not all of life is easy, but we do our best each day to make the best choices for our customers our staff and our many business partners.
In the retail business we are in, the only constant is change. What can vary from day to day or season to season is the magnitude of the change. 15 years ago, we decided to make the first significant change to our business model. After 23 years of success selling upscale women's apparel and accessories, we decided that the time was right to rebrand, remerchandise, and reintroduce our store as "Len Druskin- Men, Women, Now." Our first ever TV ad ran the night before the changes and when the doors opened the next day the reaction was overwhelming. Our focus changed into a more casual and contemporary mix for women with the addition of menswear as well. Although some missed the original formula, most embraced the change and realized that the best of what was had been incorporated into the new concept. 9 years ago another significant change occurred with the opening of our first "len" branded store offering more value oriented fast fashion to the market. "Len" was also an instant hit and has become one of the Twin Cities' first choices for trend right fashion at great prices. As of November, 2013 we introduced our concept to Chicagoland at the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, IL and are grateful to the support we have received thus far in that market.
We now find ourselves at the doorstep of another major change at our company, only the 3rd of this magnitude in 38 years. Tomorrow a new door opens and we embark on our next journey forward moving toward one brand, one identity, and one vision- the new premium "len." For me personally, the countless hours spent trying to juggle so many different brands can instead be focused on finding great new product and making sure we are at the forefront of fresh and new ideas in this ever changing market. You have always counted on us to excite your senses when it comes to style and sensibility and it's our job to make sure we have the time and focus to remain your leader in that area and these changes help ensure that. For you, this restructuring means that shopping with us will be more consistent throughout the company and less confusing. Over the next 2 years you will see an evolution in all of our Twin Cities stores as we move toward this goal of being one unified brand.
For our Len Druskin customers I believe there is a fear that your favorite designer brands will disappear and give way to more value product. It's our goal to remain committed to the brands that are most relevant to you as well as to add new products each season that are fresh and new to the marketplace. We will surround that selection with an enhanced assortment of trend right fashion items at great prices for men and women. This comprehensive but well edited selection is what you will find at the new premium "len" stores the first of which debut at the end of February. Much as we did to shopping in the Twin Cities 15 years ago with our new concept, you will find we will be the new leader in mixing the best elements of value fashion along with your favorite designer brands all merchandised together in one store to create synergy and a superior shopping experience.
All of this change is very exciting and we look forward to upgrading the shopping experience in our stores in the coming two years. Unfortunately, as is the case with most any restructuring, some difficult decisions have to be made. Most recently we announced the closing of our RBC Plaza LD Len Druskin and LD Blues stores. Prior to that, in November 2013, our Len Druskin Outlet closed. Today we bring news of the closing of Len Druskin Man and the beginning of our transition at Len Druskin Galleria. We have seen so many of these announcements in the past weeks and we are not spared from making similar adjustments to move ahead.
What these changes mean for our customers:
Downtown Minneapolis Premium Stores - LD Len Druskin and LD Blues will close on Sunday January 26th. Len Druskin Man will close later in February at a date TBD. We are looking to offer the new premium "len" concept Downtown by mid-2015 and will reintroduce the best of our designer product at that time to the Downtown market. As details become available we will keep our customers informed. As a downtown resident, I believe in our city and want to continue to support our business district. We are saddened by the closing of 4 of our 5 Downtown stores but look forward to an enhanced and remodeled "len" by mid-2015. Being part of the Central Business and Retail District Downtown is a priority in our restructuring plans. We realize we will be unable to offer our premium assortment Downtown for nearly a year but hope that our Downtown customers will visit one of our other premium "len" doors during this transition period.
Galleria Len Druskin- Our flagship store began its evolution quietly over the summer months and begins its official rebranding effort tomorrow. Galleria has been our home for nearly 23 years, longer than any other location. Although we started at 50th and France in 1976, the current version of Len Druskin calls Galleria home. As many of you know Galleria is under new ownership and is in the process of making upgrades and enhancements to the center as a whole. We are proud to be included as part of this process and are committed to providing a unique shopping experience to our Galleria customers and to welcoming new customers that might not have explored us previously or are new to the Galleria. Although the sign may change or the shopping bags may look different soon at our store, there is a heritage and history at the Galleria location that will be retained. We recognize that for many of you that our store, at Galleria is a special place to engage, shop, and explore as well as to share time with family and friends. Many of you have become our friends over the last 38 years. We wish to not only continue the tradition of being a multigenerational store, but to try and build upon it as we move forward and welcome the next generation of your families. For the short term, in conjunction with the clearance at the DT premium stores, we will be holding an event at Galleria to sweep out inventory and refresh with new and different product we are very excited about being able to offer you.
Existing "len" stores- Beginning with the new Mall of America store opening by the end of February (we are currently temporarily located on level 3 by Macy's), we will be converting all of our current "len" stores to the more premium "len" concept. The new premium "len" will include the best designer brands right alongside the value fashion products that have become synonymous with the "len" name. We are excited to debut our new concept at MOA in conjunction with our Galleria flagship re-launch toward the end of February. Two additional stores should be completed by Fall, 2014 and more details will follow. The remaining two locations are expected to be completed in 2015. Although many have questioned the need for both Southdale and Galleria under this business model, we plan to enhance and upgrade the shopping experience at both locations. Premium products will be added upon completion of each store's remodel. During this transition period only Galleria and the renovated "len" stores will operate as the new premium concept. Stores not yet renovated will operate as they have been in the past, as entirely fast fashion and value stores.
Over the last few weeks as I have struggled to make these decisions, I have gone through many different emotions. Much like the loss of a loved one, there are stages like shock, grief, the celebration of life, and then the view into the future. I have now gone through the initial shock of making the decisions. I have also experienced the grief and sadness associated with letting something go that has been such a big part of my life every day for nearly 20 years.
Beginning tomorrow, it's time to move to the next phase and to celebrate "Len Druskin" and what it has meant to me, to Len, and to all of you. I invite each and every one of you to join us as we have the biggest sale and clearance event in our history and make way for our new rebranded and unified company. At Galleria and Len Druskin Man, find almost all of our entire stock 50% off starting tomorrow as we do a clean sweep and the small amount of product that is not 50% off, which are new fashion or carryover basics, will be 20% off. The entire stock of both stores will be on markdown starting Friday, Jan 24th at 10am. The 20% never on sale items will apply for 3 days only, Friday Jan 24th through Sunday Jan 26th, and the 50% off will run as long supplies last. At LD Len Druskin and LD Blues the entire stock is 50% off through Sunday Jan 26th.
I invite you to come to one of our premium stores, help us celebrate "Len Druskin", share a story or two, tell us what Len Druskin has meant to you, and laugh with friends, family, and our associates while you shop and save. It's our gift to you as we close this chapter of our company and move into the next one. After this celebration we begin to look ahead to our new restructured company. Beginning as soon as next week, Galleria will receive fresh product in the feel of the new premium "len" and we look forward to seeing you as the new merchandise arrives. Existing Len stores are receiving new product daily as well and it looks great.
Join us starting Friday for the "Celebrate Len Druskin Event" at Galleria and the "Store Closing Event" at Len Druskin Man, LD Len Druskin, and LD Blues Downtown. Look for an email with the details of these clearance events in your email tomorrow morning.
In closing, thank you to my entire staff of dedicated employees, our wonderful and loyal customers so many of whom have become friends through the years, family, business associates and trade partners. We "Celebrate Len Druskin" with you and look forward to many wonderful experiences under the new "len" brand.
Len Druskin Inc.