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Posted on Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 1:37 p.m.

Ann Arbor Ragstock clothing store opens first Michigan location on Tuesday

By Janet Miller


New accessories and boots are a big part of the Ragstock inventory.

Janet Miller | For

There are few - if any - places in Ann Arbor where a shopper can buy a used pair of ostrich cowboy boots, a previously worn prom dress, a new pair of skinny blue jeans and a gorilla costume under a single roof.

Until Tuesday.

That's when Minneapolis-based Ragstock, with a business model that combines selling used (they call it “recycled”) clothing and boots with a line of trendy but affordable new clothing and accessories geared toward students and young adults, opens its first Michigan store in Ann Arbor. 

The Ann Arbor Ragstock is located where town meets gown, in 6,000 square feet on the ground floor of the Handicraft Building, located at 337 East Liberty St. t is the company’s 15th store and part of a recent expansion.

A few weeks behind its early October target opening - there were some building issues - the store is ready for what typically is its busiest season: Halloween, said Manager Emilie Parker.

Its used clothing is popular with students who want to create their own costumes and it also sells new costumes, including company President Michael Finn’s favorite, a gorilla costumes that comes in an assortment of colors.


Emilie Parker has worked for Ragstock for eight years, the last seven as a manager.

Janet Miller | For

But Ragstock isn’t a single season store. While its widest appeal is to students, it also attracts adults, especially with its “recycled” clothing, from blue jeans to sweaters, Parker said. Christmas is its second busiest season, for both gift giving and for college students who attend “Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties.”

What makes Ragstock a creative and quirky store is its mix of new and used clothing. Used cowboy boots, flannel shirts, silk kimonos and obis, what’s become known as Bill Cosby cardigan sweaters and “ugly” Christmas sweaters popular with grandmas and college coeds hang on the “recycled” clothing racks.

 “You can call them ugly or you can look at them and call them bedazzled,” Parker said. “The more glitter, bells and presents hanging from them, the better.”

New lines are mostly trendy fashions geared toward college students: Men’s and women’s jeans, flannel shirts, open cardigan sweaters and a lot of accessories such as belts, neckties, sunglasses and jewelry. The carry clothing for men and women and a lot of unisex fashions, Parker said.

Price points for the used and new lines are affordable, Parker said. “Recycled” tank tops and T-shirts are $3 with used flannel shirts costing $5. Some of the used kimonos sell for $100, but that’s an exception. Others sell for $8. Prices for new items such as tank tops range from two for $8 to $50 for some brand name winter jackets.


'Bedazzled' holiday sweaters are big sellers at Ragstock.

Janet Miller | For

About half of the store’s merchandise is “recycled,” Parker said.

Employees are decorating the store (buying furnishings and décor from local thrift shops) and finishing stocking it, Parker said. Each Ragstock is different and there’s no company template for design.

 “We don’t use planograms. Each manager decorates their own store, so it’s personal,” Parker said. “Each one has a unique vibe that engenders loyalty with the customer base.”

Ragstock’s used clothing comes from the company’s Minneapolis warehouse and is purchased by the bale from other used clothing organizations such as the Goodwill. The kimonos and obis are imported from Japan. 

Parker has hired 10 employees and is looking to add two or three more this week.

Ragstock began in the 1970s selling used clothing and has expanded to Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and now Michigan. Eau Claire, WI is the next store scheduled to open. Finn has said he is looking for a second Michigan location.



Fri, Oct 15, 2010 : 8:17 p.m.

GREAT MANAGER!! GREAT STORE! I've been shopping at Ragstock for 15 years. Emilie does a wonderful job!


Tue, Oct 12, 2010 : 1:46 p.m.

I was in there today on my lunch hour. This is a GREAT store. Nothing like it on campus, price wise anyway. Good luck to them for much success!!!


Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 4:58 p.m.

Ragstock is staple in most Midwestern college towns. It'll do fine.


Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 4:57 p.m.

It's tough to tell from just an address, no photo of the outside of the building. The resale shop was in the basement of the store right next to Liberty Square, while the furniture shop was across Liberty, next to the Sylvan Learning Center.


Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 2:50 p.m.

The building was a furniture store.


Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 2:30 p.m.

gee, isn't this the same location that another store like this tried to survive. I can't remember the name of it but it was "recycled" clothing, it was there around 10-12 years ago.