The big green house on the corner of Howland and Boll streets, smack in the middle of trendy Uptown, has been the long-time home of Ahab Bowen, a vintage clothing and accessories store that stands as one of DFW's finest treasure troves of antique wearables. Ahab's collection of vintage apparel has always been carefully curated and beautifully presented; the shop bears little resemblance to the picked-over thrift stores that are the traditional haunts of vintage-philes. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and the shop maintains a high standard of quality in the pieces they sell.
So when Ahab Bowen announced that they will be shutting their doors on July 31 after 35 years in business, we were shocked. We've loved exploring Ahab, and have scored some truly lovely vintage finds there. We're pretty certain we're not the only ones who spent happy hours in the storied racks.
Ahab's owner, Michael Longcrier, has owned the Ahab Bowen house since he was eighteen years old, and says he sees the move to close the shop as a step forward. Longcrier explained that sales have flat-lined over the past three years. Although Ahab has maintained their numbers and made money, costs are going up.
Longcrier hopes to stay in the vintage business. He has a warehouse off Riverside Boulevard near the Design District, and he sells vintage linens and clothing to wholesalers and at flea markets -- something he will continue to do.
Although his warehouse isn't open to the public, Longcrier will be consigning his better pieces in the clothing section of venerable Haskell Avenue storefront Dolly Python. Fans of Ahab Bowen's impeccable curatorship can look for the code on clothing tags at Dolly Python: An "AB" will denote a piece that's an Ahab Bowen consignment.
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Many have wondered why Longcrier is resistant to selling the business, thus keeping Ahab open. "[It's a matter of] personal pride," he said. "This is my baby." He's spent his entire life building this business, and it's fairly evident he wants Ahab to make a graceful exit, rather than be sold and risk possible mismanagement by someone who isn't as personally invested in the shop.
Longcrier is personally invested in his workers as well as his business; he has resisted laying off employees in the face of the rising costs of staying open. He takes pride in the team of workers he's assembled. "I can't say enough good things about them," he said. Ahab employees share similar praise about their boss: One employee said she hopes to continue working with Longcrier in his future ventures.
Ahab will be holding a storewide sale this month; right now, everything is 25-percent off, and, starting Monday, everything will be 50-percent off. Rest assured, this will be nothing like most picked-over going-out-of-business sales -- Longcrier will continue to restock the store daily throughout the sale, and he has enough stuff in his warehouse to satisfy the crowds that will no doubt begin flocking to the big green house when word gets out.
So is Longcrier sad about finally closing the doors? "I haven't shed a tear yet," he said, chuckling, "but maybe I will at the end of the month."