Bike Gear Retailer Chrome Industries Closes in North Loop—with Kit and Ace to Follow
Chrome Industries' North Loop storefront
Only a little more than a year and a half after opening its sole Minnesota location in the North Loop, urban cycling gear retailer Chrome Industries has closed its doors. While no official announcement has been made, the store hosted a 50-percent-off storewide sale last weekend, a moving truck was spotted outside the store yesterday, and its windows are papered over. The San Francisco–based brand could not be reached for comment. Chrome's closing could be simply because the block couldn't handle more than one shop dedicated to cycling. The homegrown One on One Bicycle—located two doors down from Chrome—sells cycling gear in addition to bikes, and also boasts a café and strong connection with the local cycling community.
When Chrome opened in January 2015 within the former Handsome Cycles storefront at 115 N. Washington Ave., the North Loop was in the midst of a retail boom. In 2013, the block of 107–119 N. Washington Ave.—the longtime home of One on One Bicycle Studio—saw the opening of women's clothing retailer Roe Wolfe, and in June 2015, technical cashmere store Kit and Ace opened. Since then, retail on the block has suffered. Roe Wolfe moved to another location within the North Loop, and its former storefront remains vacant.
Meanwhile, rumor has it that Kit and Ace will close its North Loop store. Launched by Lululemon founder Chip Wilson’s wife and son in 2014, Kit and Ace opened a whopping 61 locations around in less than two years, including North Loop and Mall of America locations, and earlier this year it laid off roughly 10 percent of staff at its Vancouver headquarters.
Don't count N. Washington Ave. out yet—Hewing Hotel is slated to open in North Loop's historic Jackson Building later this fall at 300 N. Washington Ave., and the Sex World building at 121 and 125 Washington Ave. N. (recently rechristened the Washington) is being redeveloped with site plans including more than 12,500 square feet of retail space—1,000 of which will be dedicated to a Bonobos menswear showroom opening later this year.
UPDATE: A member of Kit and Ace's team has confirmed it would be closing its North Loop shop and says the following: "As part of our real-estate strategy, we beta-test different locations and markets with temporary spaces, while also introducing our e-commerce platform to people in the area. We deliberately enter markets with short-term leases and minimal build-out to test and connect with the community. Our lease in the North Loop will be coming to an end and so the showroom will close at that time, but we are open at Mall of America, and will continue to keep our eye on other local opportunities."