Old Boulder goes away: Starr's Clothing to sell its last pair of Levi's

When Steve Wigotow, 67, took over running Starr's, his family's historic Pearl Street clothing store in 1972, his retired grandfather, stopped in. A tailor who emigrated from Poland in the early 1900s, his grandfather stood in the shop, looked around and told his grandson, "Put a suit in the window." It was new and used suits and men's clothing that helped the elder Ben Wigotow, in 1914, launch a store that would endure for more than 100 years on Pearl Street. But it would be Levi's, hiking boots, painters pants and work shirts that helped Steve Wigotow and his wife Karen, 58, prosper downtown. This year, however, that legacy comes to an end. Faced with a 40 percent rent hike and rising competition from online retailers, the Wigotows have decided to close the store. "It's the evolution of retail," Steve Wigotow said. "We're competing with the world now, not just the businesses here in town." Frank Hagan, a downtown Boulder landlord himself, began shopping at Starr's as a teenager. "I used to buy too-tight jeans there in the 1970s. By the 1980s, I was buying Doc (Dr.) Martens there," he said. Like other native Boulderites, Hagan said he's bothered by what he sees as profound changes in downtown, as more out-of-state investors stake their claims on its real estate, and rising taxes make it harder for small, local retailers to maintain profitability. "One by one, I'm seeing all of these local places closing. Old Boulder is going away. It's kind of sad," he said. The Wigotows, who've been married 35 years, say theirs has been a true mom-and-pop shop, though they don't live above the store as Steve's parents once did. Karen worked as a clerk in the store during college, eventually marrying Steve. She has collected reams of stories about customers, crises and funny moments from its long operating history, which included selling band uniforms for Boulder High School students. "One day, I will write a book," she said. In recent years, the store, though it still sells Levi's, has evolved past its work clothes legacy, selling an array of upscale boutique shirts, sweaters, skirts, trousers and accessories for men and women. "We've always been a work in progress," Steve said. The retail duo said they will keep the store open until all of its merchandise is sold. The sale starts Wednesday afternoon. In the interim, as they and their staff mark down prices, both said they are grateful to the city that has brought them decades of prosperity. "Boulder has given us a good life," Steve said. Jerd Smith: 303-473-1332, smithj@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/jerd_smith

Date

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Cite

http://www.dailycamera.com/boulder-business/ci_31333249/old-boulder-goes-away-starrs-clothing-sell-its

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