Mar 13, 2024 - Business

Outdoor Voices to close Chicago store, employees say

Outdoor Voices store with light purple framing and wood panels around windows.

Outdoor Voices on a busy strip of Armitage Ave. Photo: Carrie Shepherd/Axios

Outdoor Voices is closing its location in Lincoln Park and retail stores nationwide as the popular athleisure brand moves online, current and former employees told Axios.

Why it matters: Outdoor Voices took a big bet with prime locations in many of the country's fastest-growing cities, but the storefronts were short-lived, some lasting only a year or two.

The big picture: Current and former Outdoor Voices employees at stores in Austin, Denver, Atlanta, Charlotte, New York, Houston and San Diego told Axios reporters that their stores would shutter by Sunday.

  • Outdoor Voices did not return Axios' requests for comment.

Catch up quick: The company was founded in 2013 on the ethos that fitness should be fun, with apparel that is suitable for exercise and recreation.

  • The Chicago store on Armitage Ave. was the company's first in the Midwest when it opened in 2019. The area provided a mix of wealthy residents and college kids as its prime clientele.

What they're saying: One Austin employee who worked on the company's marketing team said they and other employees were suddenly laid off in brief meetings Tuesday.

  • "It was very sudden," the former employee, who asked not to be named out of fear of retaliation, told Axios. "Store teams were told by their manager — who were also laid off — that effective as of end of day Sunday that every single one of our Outdoor Voices stores are closing as well."
  • They were told the brand is moving to online only.

Zoom in: An internal message obtained by Axios told retail employees that "Outdoor Voices is embarking on a new chapter as we transition to an exclusively online business."

  • The messaging was sent over Slack as instructions for what to tell customers about the transition.

What's ahead: All items will be 50% off in the Lincoln Park store until its closure on Sunday at 5pm.

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