For more than 40 years, Len Druskin was one of the best-known names in Twin Cities retail—women flocked to his eponymous Edina boutique for special occasion dresses and designer fashion. His son Michael Druskin took over in 1999. With an instinct for trends that were about to pop, the younger Druskin steered the store in a more trendy direction and began an aggressive expansion. At its peak six years ago, the company’s portfolio included a dozen stores in the Twin Cities and Chicago, and they weren’t all the same. Customers didn’t necessarily know the difference between the Len Druskin Outlet and the “Len” stores where everything was always 50 percent off. Overextended, the business began to unravel. The last of the suburban locations went dark overnight in 2017, leaving many employees and vendors without their final paycheck. Len Druskin Inc. filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in early 2018. Michael Druskin updated the job title on his LinkedIn profile to “Lyft driver.” It wasn’t a joke.
But in August, Michael Druskin returned to retail with a menswear store called Jaxon Grey—a nod to another iconic local boutique of yesteryear, Jackson Graves, where his grandmother was a buyer. Jaxon Grey is Druskin’s vision, but the money comes from a group of silent investors who he says “believe I have the ability to share something unique and cool.” Located within North Loop collective D.Nolo, Jaxon Grey will focus on small up- and-coming brands. Calm and reflective after more than a year of therapy and a new workout routine, Druskin says he hopes people won’t judge him on the final weeks of Len Druskin Inc. “We feel very badly that things didn’t go as planned,” Druskin says. “It’s not about what happened, but how you deal with it.”