After nearly 10 years as a fashion pioneer in Milwaukee, Aala Reed, 1320 E. Brady St., has closed. Personally, since the owner, Laura Cole, is a dear friend; I'm going to really miss Aala Reed.
Not only did Cole and her original business partner, Sharon Reed, create one of the city's best men's stores in the past decade but their original vision and risk taking helped develop Brady Street and, not to mention, spur my wife and her business partner into founding their boutique, Lela, in the Historic Third Ward.
Yes, local retail can be a bear. Long hours, tight margins and fickle customers. But, it's local retail that sets trends, keeps an eye on style and helps manufacture the look and feel of an area. And, Aala Reed did just that.
The store introduced me to many styles and designers. And, I bet I bought 80 percent of my nicer shirts there in the past 8-9 years. The service was always great and, as I mentioned, it was at Aala Reed where I knew I could count on finding unique brands and items that would stand the test of time.
There's an ebb and flow to local retail, and it's the risk takers and passionate pioneers who pave the way for the future. Many succeed, others fail and several get to do life and business on their terms and within their own visions.
For Aala Reed, though, now was just time to close. It was the end of a season and a buying cycle; and Cole found a new opportunity at the Marcus Corporation where she's already finding big success and is still able to be a fashion leader and trendsetter.
Aala Reed made Milwaukee better. Many men, and women, will wear the store's clothing for years to come. I know that the shirts I bought from Aala Reed are my favorites.
It makes me proud that a local retailer helped dress me, and I'm a bit sad that I won't have this shopping destination left in my life.
Hats off to Laura and congrats to her and her team on many years of success. I know there are other fine men's stores in the area, and I'll find another favorite soon I'm sure.
Finally, I wanted Cole to "have the last word," to an extent. So, I asked her for her final thoughts on Aala Reed. She said, "Aala Reed has been privileged to be part of Brady Street during the past nine years, and amongst a growing family of retailers in Milwaukee. It's been very rewarding to be included in one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in Milwaukee that has developed into a destination shopping area for out-of-town visitors. Sadly, these challenging economic times have made it difficult for many people nationwide to own their own business, and we have certainly seen that locally, as well. It has been a pleasure to be a part of the local business community and now I look forward to the next chapter."
Milwaukee will miss Aala Reed but I'll continue to smile every time I drive or walk by 1320 E. Brady St. and put on any of my closet full of Aala Reed items.
A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.
He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.
Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.
He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.
He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.