July 8, 2016 at 3:06 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Universal Gear set to close
Universal Gear, gay news, Washington Blade

Universal Gear is set to close its last stores in D.C. and New York. (Blade photo by Stephen Rutgers)

D.C. gay businessman David Franco announced this week that he and his business partners have decided to close their two remaining Universal Gear clothing stores, one in D.C. and the other in New York.

The upscale specialty clothing stores, which began by marketing their merchandise to a mostly gay male clientele, were located at one point in Atlanta, Chicago and Rehoboth Beach as well as D.C. and New York.

“After 23 years in business and a challenging retail environment it was just time for us to move on and to pursue other things that interest us,” Franco told the Washington Blade.

He noted that he is principal owner of the D.C.-based real estate development firm Level 2 Development, which currently has several major mixed use development projects in the works in D.C. and New York City.

Franco said he expects the Universal Gear store at 1919 14th Street, N.W., in D.C. to remain open until the end of August or until all of the remaining merchandise is sold in a going-out-of-business sale.

“A huge wall-to-wall store closing sale will begin Friday, July 8, to liquidate every single item of merchandise,” an announcement released by the store says.

“The closing sale will include all shirts, pants, shorts, jeans, underwear, athletic wear, shoes, skin care, accessories and much, much more,” the announcement says. “The sale will continue until every item is sold.”

It says that in addition to clothing items, store fixtures, furniture and equipment will also be part of the sale.

The announcement adds, “We thank you for your support and friendship during our 23 years of business and have enjoyed being part of the D.C. and NY communities,” it says.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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