LOCAL NEWS

Salt Lake business to relocate to Murray after 119 years; building to be torn down

Apr 13, 2024, 7:30 PM | Updated: Apr 14, 2024, 9:26 am

Signs promoting a "closing sale" are posted at UWM Men's Shop in downtown Salt Lake City Monday. Th...

Signs promoting a "closing sale" are posted at UWM Men's Shop in downtown Salt Lake City Monday. The business formerly known as Utah Woolen Mills, is slated to move to Murray before the building is torn down later this year. (Carter Williams, KSL.com)

(Carter Williams, KSL.com)

SALT LAKE CITY — A fifth generation family-owned clothing store that has been a Salt Lake City staple for over a century is moving to a new location in the Salt Lake Valley after its downtown store was determined to be too damaged by a 2020 earthquake to be repaired and will be torn down.

After weeks of privately letting customers know about the impending move, UWM Men’s Shop — previously known as Utah Woolen Mills — formally announced this week that it plans to move. Signs promoting a “closing sale” are now posted on the windows of its location at 59 W. South Temple.

UWM plans to open a new store on the corner of 6100 South and State State in Murray, near Fashion Place Mall, that will open on May 6, while its old location will be phased out in the coming weeks. A farewell party is slated for May 2 to celebrate the business, according to B.J. Stringham, the business’s president.

‘A really big move’

“This is a really big move for us,” he said. “We want to close this chapter with high hopes for the future — and we’re excited for the future.”

Property Reserve Inc., which owns the eight-story building, told KSL.com that the property — sandwiched between City Creek Center and Temple Square — will be torn down later this year over its seismic risks.

Father and son Henry and Briant Stringham founded Utah Woolen Mills in 1905, offering woolen goods and men’s clothing from a base in downtown Salt Lake City. The company has remained in the family and within the same block ever since, moving to its current location in the late ’70s as construction of the Crossroads Plaza consumed the original building.

The second location was spared when City Creek Center construction began in the 2000s, as crews built around the store to complete the mall over a decade ago.

Construction was just one challenge along the way. In a public letter about the impending move, the Stringham family pointed to “countless ups and downs” over the past 119 years. The family business weathered two global pandemics, two world wars, the Great Depression and multiple recessions. Stringham said the business has had some of its best sales years ever since 2022.

However, a 5.7-magnitude earthquake that rattled the Salt Lake Valley in 2020 proved to be the biggest obstacle — at least in terms of the company’s time in Salt Lake City. A structural engineering firm surveyed the building and identified “seismic risks” after the earthquake, according to Dale Bills, a spokesman for Property Reserve.

Cost of upgrades, repairs were too much

In a statement to KSL.com, Bills explained that the necessary repairs and seismic upgrades were determined to be “cost prohibitive,” so the company decided to tear down the building. By the point that decision was made, UWM was the property’s last remaining tenant as Deseret Book — the building’s primary tenant — had moved out in 2019.

It appears that it will be the second building to be demolished because of the earthquake. State historians noted that the Sears House, a historic home in Salt Lake City’s Liberty Wells neighborhood, was the only historic building damaged severe enought to be torn down after the quake.

While the Stringham family said they had hoped to keep running their business downtown, negotiations ended with an agreement for the business to vacate by July. Now they’re looking forward to a new home for the first time in more than 45 years.

“I know it sounds trite, but it isn’t you, it is us,” the family wrote in their public letter to Salt Lake City. “We must be true to ourselves and move where we are the captains of our destiny. We are moving to where we own our property and can truly have control over our future, like we did when great, great grandpa and his son got involved in this business.”

Benefits and drawbacks

The new Murray location has some benefits and drawbacks, B.J. Stringham says. It has about the same floor room size as the downtown location, better parking and it’s located to another major Salt Lake Valley shopping center, but it doesn’t have the same amount of storage space.

That’s why UWM Men’s Shop is now holding a series of liquidation sales downtown because it can’t bring everything to the new store. All items are currently listed at 50% off, but the sale will reach as high as 90% off for any remaining items after May 13. Stringham said the company may end up donating items if there’s anything left after the store officially closes.

Demolition of the Salt Lake City building is expected to begin later this year. Bills said the timeline is based on the “timetable of other major downtown construction already underway,” such as the ongoing work to renovate Temple Square across the street.

Stringham said his family hopes to make another century’s worth of memories in Murray as they seek to make the best out of the situation.

“I’m proud of the legacy we have and the legacy we continue to build,” he said. “I think a larger marker of what our legacy is how we handle adversity — and I’m hoping to do that proud, too.”

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Salt Lake business to relocate to Murray after 119 years; building to be torn down