Doug Moen, R.I.P.

Doug Moen passed away yesterday following a tragic fall.

UPDATES: * The Facebook Event Page for Doug’s Memorial is here. It takes place at Clyde Iron Works on Saturday, March 9th, 2013. Attendees are encouraged to wear something vintage if they are so inclined. Everyone is welcome.

* Another gathering took place March 2 at Tycoons and there is a nice write-up about it in the Duluth News Tribune: Friends Remember Vintage Clothing Collector’s Generosity.

Doug Moen, RIP. Photo courtesy of Todd Eckart

Doug Moen Portrait by Kip Praslowicz

Doug was well known around Duluth and actually far and wide for his vintage costumes, furniture and decorations. His most recent business incarnation, the Retro Mall on First Street, was profiled on PDD last year: here.

Doug was also very well known as a friend to many, including many cheapskate artists and performer-types. There used to be a sign in his costume shop that read “Friends of Doug Pay Double” or something like that. But his friends didn’t pay double. My memories of Doug are of him always being ready to help out a friend, usually on short notice, and always on a budget. I was involved in a few businesses in the 2000s and Doug made immeasurable contributions to those endeavors, especially at the NorShor and Speedy Wienie. Immeasurable contributions, always for free or cheap, and always with amazing grace and kindness.

Another miraculous gift of Doug’s was his ability to come up with great ideas for a look, a style, or a project. And then he could help you find the supplies to make it happen.

Doug would occasionally work with film crews who were working in Duluth. He helped out with costuming on the Academy Award nominated 2005 film North Country. Doug often related how he was told by the Hollywood pros who toured his extensive costume collection that he should insure his collection for at least a million dollars. Like Doug himself, it turns out, his collection was actually priceless.

According to someone close to Doug, the word is that he was helping a young guy who needed a couch when he fell down an elevator shaft and later died of his injuries. I am not surprised that he was helping someone, but I was shocked to see that he died.

One of my prized curio possessions that I got from Doug is a giant, white tarp. “That I’m going to have to charge you for, JP.”

“Sure, Doug, how much?”

“How about ten bucks.”

We called it “the Love Tarp” and I used to set it out at Movies in the Park because it was easy to find, and big enough for a big group of people. Everyone was welcome. And that, in a way, is a bit of a tribute to Doug all by itself.

24 Comments

baci

about 9 years ago

So many memories. His costume shop on the third floor of the Temple Opera Building was the epicenter of hip in the early 1980s in Duluth. Others will mention the many many artists and energies that swirled around Doug. His eye and heart helped bring old Duluth to young Duluth. He was the personification of bohemian in the best sense possible.

lojasmo

about 9 years ago

Very sad.  Doug was a good man and a great citizen.

TimK

about 9 years ago

I met Doug in 78 or 79. He was always helping find some oddball thing for a music or art project I was doing. He found an oversized white suit for our Stop Making Sense fundraiser in 87. He scored a couple of MN Vikings football helmets for a performance art project. He had a ridiculous amount of "things" and knew exactly where each thing was stashed and ready to loan it to you in exchange for a future favor. He won't be cashing in most of them ...

De man

about 9 years ago

Duluth has lost a legend. Doug had more costumes than an Hollywood costume shop. A real big part of the Northland moved on and I doubt most people realize it.

Bret

about 9 years ago

RIP, Doug.  Thanks for taking care of the Temple.

Lord Phosphorus

about 9 years ago

Doug fixed up my then-girlfiend and me in matching tuxedos for an Elvis Costello concert back in '81.

He said my dancing was a combination of kung-fu and Devil worship. 
Doug was a living portal to a much more interesting period of culture in the Twin Ports. There will never be anything like it again.

Have a blast in the Great Beyond, Doug.

aleasha

about 9 years ago

Sad indeed, RIP Doug, I know it's beautiful where you have gone. The legend of you lives on in more ways than you will ever know.

Emily Haavik

about 9 years ago

I currently have some three-piece suits and a box of very old, very expensive hats from Doug sitting in my office. He still hadn't charged me a dime for any of it.

yoniohno

about 9 years ago

I am heart broken. Just as all of us lucky enough to call him a friend are right now. Never was there a more superb eye for vintage anything. He lived every day in service to others. On one hand this is a cruel tragedy, very difficult to accept. On the other hand, how else would Doug Moen go, but crawling about his beloved collection, trying to help a friend? Sleep sweetly.

yoniohno

about 9 years ago

I learned that he furnished costumes for the Jim Jarmusch film Dead Man when he pulled a pair of wool pants out of his own dresser and referred to them as "Johnny Depp's pants." Of course he did many more remarkable things in his daily life, but I mention this because I know it was a feather in his cap.

Herzog

about 9 years ago

I only met the guy once.  I'd took in a bunch of random antiques to trade. He knew his stuff.  The other guys were kind of giving me the business, then he came in and took some time to go through my stuff and sort of turned the whole thing around for me, even though he was really busy.  I remember thinking this guy has a warm heart, and a twinkle in his eye.  Godspeed dude...

deannalegomarrujo

about 9 years ago

My family and I have known Doug since the 1970s. He was a sweet-natured guy and a joy to be around. I can still smell his cologne, though I don't know what it was. Always dapper, always low key, always a gentleman. I have never met anyone like him -- he was the genuine article. I am very, very sad to hear of his death.

pvanpuff

about 9 years ago

"I'll have to charge you for that" was one of his famous lines. As if he felt bad about it.

Doug was one of a kind. A real true character in or out of Duluth and a rare friend.

He's probably already collecting stuff wherever he is.

lojasmo

about 9 years ago

That's pretty damn cool.  It doesn't surprise me that Doug would have been on Jarmusch's radar, if not, in fact, friends.

Beetle

about 9 years ago

It seemed that every time I saw Doug he was doing me a favor, doing one for someone else, or on his way to. His going rate for just about anything was free if you were a friend...or even a friend of a friend.

cgapperi

about 9 years ago

Wanted to let you all know that we are working on a venue to celebrate our memories of Doug this weekend. More details to follow as they develop.

yoniohno

about 9 years ago

Thank you. Please post if there are any ways others can pitch in. I know people in Minneapolis on stand by for his memorial. So, the date will be appreciated as soon as it is sorted.

Bobbette

about 9 years ago

I am heart broken to find out about this terrible news, what a huge loss.  Doug was a good friend of mine for the past 35 years and he will be hugely missed and in my heart for the rest of my life. My mind races through all of the times we shared together and how final this all is, is devastating. He will be truly missed and always loved. Please keep me posted when his memorial will be and if there's anything I can do to help.

TimK

about 9 years ago

Saturday March 9th - 8:00 pm at Clyde Iron. There's a Facebook event with additional details. Wear something cool/vintage that you got from Doug.

umpquawineau

about 9 years ago

Doug, you'll be missed.  
Doug continues to inspire me to this day. I meet Doug when I was the drama coach at Central High in the early 1980's and needed some costumes. I was hooked the second I walked into his shop. Later Doug and I moved a good portion of his vintage wear to an 8,000sq ft loft in MPLS. But Doug was always a small town kinda guy. 
My condolences to all his close friends. He was a true friend.

wildgoose

about 9 years ago

CLARIFICATION: The gathering to remember and celebrate Doug is NEXT Saturday, March 9th at Clyde Iron in Duluth. There is a link to the facebook event page a few comments up. Click on and join the event to let everyone know that you are coming. Thanks.

Paul Lundgren

about 9 years ago

On the eve of Doug's memorial event, I figured I better head out to the garage and dig around through the ol' photo archives and pull out the two snapshots below, from May 22, 2007. 



And yes, it is ironic that I found myself digging through boxes and trying to remember where my stuff was, just like Doug would.



I shot these photos at Doug's old costume shop on Tower Avenue for the story below, which appeared in Business North newspaper:

Costume collector keeps on collecting Even after selling the vast collection of vintage clothing it took him 40 years to assemble, Doug Moen is shopping for more. "I'm still collecting," Moen said. "I'm antiquing when I can, and that includes vintage clothing. It's kind of hard to stop after all these years." Moen sold his massive collection in 2006 to the A. H. Zeppa Family Foundation, which has opened a costume warehouse in Superior's Mariner Mall called Northern Theatrical Costume to service theater and film interests. "I'm glad they came and got the business," Moen said. "I was struggling for some years, working another job to support it, and I don't want to die underneath this big pile of stuff." Moen began collecting vintage clothing in 1967 and opened his first costume shop, Rags to Riches, in 1972 in the back of an antique store he owned in Superior. In 1977 he opened the Second Act Costume Shop in Duluth, but ended up moving his operation numerous times during the 1980s, frequently changing its name. In 1990, he finally settled into the space at 1226 1/2 Tower Ave., in Superior, above Vintage Italian Pizza. Doug Moen's Clothing and Vintage Costume Rental held on until Halloween of 2005. Moen said he continued to open his shop to high school theater groups into 2006, until he sold the collection. "I feel pretty good that it's in their hands," Moen said of the Zeppa Foundation and its Northern Theatrical Costume subsidiary. "They're very competent people. I think they'll take care of it a lot better than I ever could have. I'm 60 now. I'm really tired. I don't have the stamina I used to have." Moen said he stayed up many nights until midnight working on his costume shop, putting in long hours after he'd already put in a full day's work doing rental property maintenance for Duluth landlord and emergency room physician Eric Ringsred, M.D. Moen said the costume business never quite paid its bills, relying heavily on Halloween rentals to support it year round. Theater groups, theme parties and historical recreations were never enough to make the shop profitable, he said. Moen did catch a few breaks when major motion picture companies needed his costumes. He said the 1995 movie "Dead Man," starring Johnny Depp, needed long underwear, lumberjack clothes and fur and wool coats. "I had it and they didn't," he said. Among other films that used Moen's costumes are "Far North," "Iron Will," "North Country" and "A Prairie Home Companion." Because he couldn't afford a good warehouse, Moen scattered items in numerous basements, wherever he could find space. He eventually began to fear the collection would be lost forever if he didn't unload it. "I sent out distress signals into this area for three years, but nobody seemed to be interested. I was ready to contact Hollywood -- or Hollywood's competition especially -- and just see who would want to take over this collection. I bought this stuff mostly from this area. People had me in mind when they were unloading this stuff. I think it would have been kind of a letdown had I gone to other markets and just shipped it out." Tyra Adams, operations manager for Northern Theatrical Costume, said Moen has made a huge contribution to the local theater community. "The man did amass quite a collection," she said. "We want him to know that he really has done something for the theater and film world. He's done a great thing by being willing to part with his fabulous collection. He's making available to theater and film some wonderful pieces that otherwise might be very difficult to find." Moen hopes to create a new use for his former costume shop location, and continue renting it. Owned by John Dandrea, the space is the former Italian-American Club, and has a restored 1930s bar-area to which Moen has devoted much work. "I think I'm going to take the old space and try to open up some kind of small video production studio," he said. "I'd like to open it up as a lease space for novice photographers by setting up a video and mini-stage production area. "Of course, if it doesn't work, I'll have to bow out and then fade into the woodwork of Duluth and Superior ... which is a wonderful thing to do, by the way," he said.
Of course, it hurts now to read the quote "I don't want to die underneath this big pile of stuff," knowing that Northern Theatrical Costumes failed and Doug did kind of end up dying with a big pile of stuff. But the more I think about who Doug was and how he couldn't stop acquiring things, the more I believe there was no way he was going to leave this world without boxes of cool stuff stacked up in basements all over town. Anyway, I hope I fade into the same woodwork as Doug Moen someday.

Paul Lundgren

about 9 years ago

Speaking of woodwork ... 



I got my Duluth, Minn. cribbage board from Retro Antiques a few years ago. It had a $10 price sticker on it and I wasn't going to haggle. Doug said, "You can have this for $6."

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