Detroit: Rathnaw Clothing Store

This mysterious little commercial building on Chene with sleek, geometric exterior panels and an eye-catching Art Deco font was a 1920’s business called Anthony J. Rathnaw’s Formal Attire for Men, the flagship location for a successful clothing rental and retail business that was a fixture in Detroit until the 1970’s.

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This 1989 image, posted by Eddieson on DetroitYes, appears to have been from bruceharkness.com, which is now a broken link.  For those of you who don’t read the all the way through the comments, Anthony J. Rathnaw’s granddaughter Carolyn Kinsler found this post and added this to the very little I had been able to find:

My Grandfather was Anthony Rathnaw, the man who owned this business from 1922 until 1971 when he sold to the Valente Bros.. Although my grandfather’s business had many branches (8 to 12) this was his flag-ship location. He provided formal wear rental, and sold general mens wear and bowling/team wear. Shortly before he sold the business, it was broken into, he was assulted and badly injured. For the middle part of the twentieth century, Rathnaw’s was THE place in Detroit to rent tuxedos for proms and weddings.

To those of you who have found places you recognize on this website and offered a memory in the comments, I can’t tell you enough how much it means to hear from you.

Jenny Randazzo’s Chene Party Store was its final incarnation after the clothing store closed. The liquor store lasted a few years, eventually burned and Jenny died shortly after, and the store couldn’t be saved.  Indeed, the inside is in terrible shape, with piles of trash among damaged coolers and a collapsing roof, and just a few little stickers and beer posters on the walls from its former life.  But, the exterior’s beautiful facade and signage are pretty irresistible, and some of the liquor store’s hand lettering is still visible through a thick layer of graffiti and tagging.

4 thoughts on “Detroit: Rathnaw Clothing Store

  1. My Grandfather was Anthony Rathnaw, the man who owned this business from 1922 until 1971 when he sold to the Valente Bros.. Although my grandfather’s business had many branches (8 to 12) this was his flag-ship location. He provided formal wear rental, and sold general mens wear and bowling/team wear. Shortly before he sold the business, it was broken into, he was assulted and badly injured. For the middle part of the twentieth century, Rathnaw’s was THE place in Detroit to rent tuxedos for proms and weddings.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. P.S., I do not believe he ever referred to the store as a Habadashery, that name came from a picture of my grandfather which labelled him a Haberdasher.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have always LOVED that art deco facade. And before it was Rathnaw’s it was a branch of the Michigan State Bank of Detroit. Something I just learned recently thanks to the wonderful Humans of Chene Street Facebook page. It can be seen here in the bottom photo with the Dom Polski Hall next door. https://www.facebook.com/humansofchenestreet/photos/a.197953627207706.1073741828.196188730717529/308803356122732/?type=3&theater

    Liked by 1 person

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