J.L. Powell

My friend Charley Marcuse of Charley’s Mustard informed me recently that the flagship store for J.L. Powell in Three Oaks, Michigan, has closed. It saddened me, to say the very least, to learn that this place had to go. It was a favorite stop-over on my travels between Detroit and Chicago.

Set in the town’s old train depot, it was the perfect location in too small a town to display the company’s wares.

I first learned of J.L. Powell on my trip to the Quoddy Moccasin factory in Lewiston, Maine. Kevin Shorey was listing some of the shops that carried Quoddy, and JLP was among them. When I told Julie Fernstrom of Brimfield in Chicago that I was going to be driving up the Lake Michigan shoreline, she suggested I stop by. While there, I had the opportunity to meet Josh Powell. I’ve never met a cooler guy. A former trader, he and his wife moved to be closer to the lake, and decided to set up shop. With the help of his professional photographer father, he started photographing himself on his many, manly adventures.

He could not have been nicer, more inviting. He was even kind enough to show me designs for new products, which he hoped would make the cut for the fall line.

When asked, he compared J.L. Powell to J. Peterman, calling it a “younger, possibly hipper” version of the venerated catalog company. I suppose it shouldn’t have surprised me when Charley told me the shop had closed. While it was a great flagship, a terrific place to show off the wares, when it’s set in a town with a population just shy of 2,000 people, as that old real estate adage explains, unfortunately, it comes down to location, location, location.

For more photos of my visit to their shop, may it rest in peace, visit Flickr.

6 Comments

  1. Noble County Gold
    February 17, 2011

    Have a few pieces from J.L.Powell that I purchased from the catalogue. Never been to the shop, but guess I have missed out. Great brand.

  2. Bernie
    February 19, 2011

    It’s always very sad when you see a family business fail, especially when you can tell from your pictures of their display how much they loved and cared about what they do. Like you said the location was not optimal, but the building is undeniably beautiful. I think they may have fell in love with the building and decided lower rent in a beautiul building was better than higher rent in a better location that didn’t share the asthetic quality of their ware.

  3. […] read with sadness via all plaidout that J.L. Powell’s flagship store had recently shuttered–I’ve always wanted to visit their Three Oaks, Michigan location. While much of their […]

  4. Josh Powell
    March 9, 2011

    To All,

    Thank you so much for all the kind words about the store. It will certainly be missed. That place had a wonderful soul to it. We just decided that our focus should be completely on our mail order business, so we closed her down.

    I’m very glad to hear you enjoyed it. Were not gone! Give us a jingle if you’d like a catalog.

    For the record I do hold Mr. Peterman in high regard, and he is as crazy as you would expect. He’s a great guy.

    Best Regards,

    Josh Powell
    CEO J.L. Powell

  5. J.J. Luranc
    December 22, 2011

    One suggestion for resurrecting your flagship store – New Buffalo, MI – location, location, location…

  6. Southwestern Michigan
    September 12, 2012

    […] I as I talk of the growth in the area, I recall the train depot in Three Oaks, which formerly housed the classic, durable wares of J. Powell. The same depot now houses a fairly […]

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