It’s tricky to reflect on a local business that was an important part of the community for decades, but closed unceremoniously overnight, leaving many employees without a final paycheck. Michael Druskin knows this, and says he’s prepared to face critics when he returns to retail this month with a new men’s store called Jaxon Grey located within D.Nolo, the North Loop retail collective.
“I hope people won’t judge me on a two-week period,” Druskin says, referring to the final days of Len Druskin Inc., in 2017, when the last of its stores closed abruptly and the company declared bankruptcy. One could point to many factors over a number of years that precipitated the collapse: plunging into the outlet business, maintaining three downtown stores, diversifying to the point of confusion. Druskin owns it all. “As a creative person, I have a natural tendency to keep moving and get bored,” he says. But now, after months of therapy, regular workouts, and a stint as a Lyft driver, Druskin prefers to acknowledge what happened and look ahead.
“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. I’m attempting to give back to the community all I was given.”
Given the sad ending, it's easy to forget that Len Druskin was a go-to in this city for many years. First, for women's special occasion wear, and then, when Michael took over from his father, for trend-forward contemporary fashion for women and men. Michael Druskin brought the Twin Cities premium denim before the department stores did. He anticipated the Juicy Couture track suit phenomenon and stocked up ahead of all the celebrity sightings. Now, he intends to focus his eye (emphasis on focus) on emerging brands for men.
Jaxon Grey is scheduled to open on Aug. 16. Druskin makes clear that the store is his vision and direction, but the startup funds come from silent investors who believe in him. D.Nolo owner Veronica Clark, whose first retail job was at Len Druskin in Edina, says she jumped at the chance to rent space to Michael Druskin. “He’s bringing something to the city that isn’t here, and that’s what we do at D.Nolo.”
Opening a menswear boutique across the street from MartinPatrick 3, one of the most highly regarded men’s specialty stores in the country, is either inspired, or crazy, or perhaps both. Druskin says Jaxon Grey will feature small, up and coming men’s brands not sold elsewhere in town. There will be $30 t-shirts and $65 jeans, along with $600 leather jackets. The mix will range from youth inspired golf apparel by Malbon Golf and Seager Co.’s western jackets. Could you buy those brands online? Sure, Druskin acknowledges, but you’d have to take the time to find them. Most people don’t want to do that, he says. They want to come into a curated environment where they can learn the stories behind the brands, get service, and discover new things. Says Druskin, “I want it to be an adventure.”
Get a sneak peek of Jaxon Grey online, and follow along on Facebook and Instagram. And for more on updates to D.Nolo, visit mspmag.com.