Dan Gilbert Forcing 96-Year-Old Detroit Clothier Out Of Business

Serman's, a Detroit tailor old as the city's industrial age and has weathered through it all this time, is closing its doors after 96 years, WWJ reports. Cleveland Cavaliers owner and local missionary Dan Gilbert is reportedly behind the store's ousting.

It's a double standard for Gilbert, who last week lambasted Pulte Homes for voting to move from its metro Detroit headquarters to Atlanta but apparently doesn't mind squeezing out longtime Detroit business owners that don't fit the bottom line.


When I think of the old-school Detroit places where men get church, homecoming, prom and graduation outfits — Van Dyke's, City Slickers (supposedly where Biggie got his stink pink gators from Detroit playas), Hot Sams, Henry the Hatter, and so on — Serman's ranks near the top of the list.

But Serman's, located on an increasingly busy downtown corner as more residents begin to pile in, is caught in the crossfire of the Gilbertization of downtown Detroit. Gilbert made the store's owner Steven Ross "an offer he couldn't refuse," which probably means his eviction notice was written in a respectable serif font instead of Comic Sans.

As WWJ notes, Serman's has outfitted every Detroit mayor for more than 50 years. Simple math would tell you that, on top of the 96 years of service, it's a business that didn't waver during the heady Coleman Young era nor did it immediately flee to the suburbs after 1967. In other words, doesn't Serman's fit the mold of the businesses that Detroit should be trying to preserve?

Serman's owner Steven Ross says men don't go for three-piece suits anymore, which is a lie if you've ever been in a Detroit-area church on an Easter Sunday. "Men aren’t dressing like they used to. It started about 15 years ago when corporate America relaxed the dress code," Ross says.


Interesting, because when I think of a relaxed corporate atmosphere, Gilbert's Quicken Loans — where employees shoot each other with Nerf guns when they aren't upselling homeowners on refinance rates — immediately comes to mind. Looks like Serman's was Gilbertized in more ways than one.

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What was the previous relationship between Dan Gilbert and Serman's? Is Dan Gilbert the landlord? If Dan Gilbert isn't the landlord, by what means is he affecting the closing of Serman's? Is he buying the company? Is he lobbying the local government to revoke Serman's business license? Or is it something else?

This WWJ story leaves many unanswered questions.