After 23 years in business on Broadway Street, the outdoor sporting store Trailblazer will soon close up shop.
Trailblazer owners Todd Raskin, Chris Howe and Chris Mejias, who also own Patagonia at 1 Broadway St., announced in an email on Monday that they would not renew the lease on Trailblazer’s New Haven location. The store’s final day of business will be May 28.
“This decision was not made lightly and is in no way a reflection of your consistent loyalty and support,” the owners wrote. “296 Elm Street was our first location; it is precious to us and there are innumerable memories jam packed within its four walls.”
L.L. Bean plans to open a two-story retail outlet this summer next to the Trailblazer space. In an interview with the News, Howe said that the upcoming opening was a major factor — but not the only factor — in the owners’ decision to close the store. University Properties, the Yale-owned real estate manager of many retail shops around campus, is the landlord of both store locations.
Howe said that Trailblazer had to close to ensure a sustained revenue stream for its employees.
“The University realistically believed that having three stores — Patagonia, Trailblazer and L.L. Bean — in similar locations on Broadway would be best for all three, but that was a risk we just couldn’t take,” Howe said.
University spokesman Tom Conroy said that it is the owners’ decision to determine their business focus. He mentioned that Yale provided a “prime location” on Broadway to Patagonia.
In an email to the News, David DelVecchio, director of real estate asset management and marketing at the Office of New Haven and State Affairs, wrote that his office is “pleased” to see Patagonia performing well in New Haven and that Yale arranged for the owners of Patagonia to have “one of the best locations for visibility on Broadway” for the store.
DelVecchio also highlighted that opening the L. L. Bean store would attract more customers to the Broadway shopping area, which would help all the retail merchants.
Monday does not mark the end of the road for the Trailblazer franchise — far from it. Raskin, Howe and Meijas operate stores in Branford, Trumbull, Old Saybrook, Uncasville and Wakefield, Rhode Island. The Branford location is set to be refurbished in June, and a new Trailblazer shop will open its doors in Providence, Rhode Island, in August.
Broadway’s Patagonia store, which is managed by the same owners, will remain open. Howe said that he, Raskin and Meijas decided that, as a single-brand store, the Patagonia store would be more likely than Trailblazer to complement and compete with the new L.L. Bean.
Last summer, the outdoor sporting store Denali, which Howe, Raskin and Meijas also owned, closed up shop after Patagonia opened.
All Trailblazer employees were notified of the decision weeks or months in advance of the official announcement, and all were offered positions at other Trailblazer locations, according to Howe.
The owners said they are still dedicated to the Elm City and will remain involved with New Haven events.
“[We] will continue to support local nonprofits, host the Banff Mountain Film Festival at the Shubert, and Run the Gauntlet at East Rock Park,” the owners wrote in the Monday email. “New Haven is our birthplace and we will remain faithful to you and our community.”
Trailblazer was founded in 1994.
Isabel Bysiewicz | firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a statement from David DelVecchio, director of real estate asset management and marketing.