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Posted on Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Ann Arbor's Renaissance clothing reopens with 'new beginning' sale after December fire

By Lizzy Alfs


Renaissance owner Roger Pothus inside his renovated clothing store in downtown Ann Arbor.

Joseph Tobianski |

Rather than dwelling on the business lost during an ill-timed four-month closure, Renaissance owner Roger Pothus believes this is a new beginning for his 42-year-old clothing store.

The store at 201 S. Division St. reopens at 10 a.m. on Friday after a small fire ruined its inventory in December. Almost the entire store is marked down 50 percent to 80 percent for the first few weeks of business.

“We lost four months worth of business, so we’re having a huge sale like we’ve never done before,” Pothus said. “A lot of our vendors were disappointed because we were closed for a while, so they offered things like overstock or just special prices to get back in front of the public.”


The inventory at Renaissance is marked down 50 percent to 80 percent for the next several weeks.

Joseph Tobianski |

The floor at Renaissance was flooded after a small garbage can fire set off the sprinkler system in the clothing store on Dec. 4. Smoke damage from the fire ruined all the clothing — totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But Pothus and his employees are taking this opportunity to reposition the store and attract new clients.

They have refocused their efforts on women’s custom clothing and inventory, which now accounts for half the store. They brought in some lower-priced items and more colorful pieces; expanded the size offerings; and brought in clothing lines from various parts of Europe.

Still, Pothus said he’s not abandoning his “luxury customer.” During the month-long sale, there will be a small section in the store with new styles that won’t be discounted. After the sale, Renaissance will bring in its regular spring collection.


Renaissance intern Lisa Wang dresses a mannequin at the clothing store.

“This is a new beginning, we’re rising up and we’re open for suggestions,” said manager Bill Sizer. “We want new people to come in, but we’d also like their input as to how Renaissance can continue to grow from this point on.”

The store has been rearranged and it has new carpeting and LED lighting. Pothus said McKinley Towne Centre landlord McKinley Inc. facilitated the renovations.

Most importantly, Pothus and Sizer both wanted to thank their customers for supporting them while the store was closed.

“The amazing thing is, when we were closed, our customers offered to roll up their sleeves and help us. They were willing to push a broom and shovel the ashes out of here,” Pothus said.

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:32 p.m.

For every negative comment there are many customers like me who couldn't wait for the opening. As far as the fashion is concerned you're right for those of you who want to walk around in cargo pants and tee shirts don't worry about how the rest of us dress. Nice article

Jessica Webster

Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

Glad to hear Roger's back in business!


Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

So there is a fire and all new merchandise is purchased and they open with a 50% - 80% off sale? Any store with a custom neon "Sale" sign in the window is perpetually on sale. How do you make a profit selling "new" merchandise at 50% - 80% off? It either isn't 'new' or it was purchased off price from the manufacturer and inflated THEN reduced.

The Picker

Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 1:56 p.m.

Goes to show how much margin is in the price of retail clothing !


Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

It's explained in the article


Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 12:45 p.m.

Congrats Roger! And I might are looking good as always!


Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

I'd like to hear from people who actually shop at this place. The fashion exhibited by the mannequins on display is extremely dated (perhaps even odd), and I'd be hard-pressed to find a male walking around in such styles. Anyways, good luck to this man and his business going forward.


Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 10:49 a.m.

Unless he lived at his store, wouldn't "Rather than dwelling on" be the proper wording?


Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.