DETROIT (WWJ) – Can an iconic, old-school downtown business survive in the new Detroit? Maybe not.
Paul Wasserman’s family has owned Henry the Hatter for nearly 70 years, the store itself has been in business for 124 years, and it’s been on Broadway Street since 1948.
Now, says Wasserman, the landlord has terminated his lease.
“I think the owners of the building are looking at dollar signs and see more money than they were charging me, and they might be able to get a lot of money for the building,” he told WWJ’s Sandra McNeill.
He said he’s been looking for other Detroit locations, but: “Things that were basically uninhabitable a few years ago are now going for $28 to $35 a foot.”
“And if you need a basement, ‘Oh, yeah we charge for that, too.’ My fear is that independents like myself are, at least in the short-term, going to be priced out of the rental market.”
Wasserman is inviting fans to stop by to say goodbye.
“I know I’ll shed a tear; I’ve shed a tear already,” he said. “It’s like raising a child.”
Through the years, Henry the Hatter customers have included Kid Rock, Jeff Daniels, Jack White, and Mike Epps. President Dwight D. Eisenhower wore a Henry the Hatter homburg (a formal felt hat with a single dent running down the center) to his inauguration in 1956.
A second Henry the Hatter store on 10 Mile Rd. in Southfield will stay open. The last day for the Broadway store is Aug. 5.