Mike Bjorn's Fine Clothing & Museum
Contributed by VisitKenosha.com
Brett Bjorn has never had far to go to when he's needed clothing to stand out in the crowd. "As my friends would tell you, when Halloween came around, I was definitely the most prepared guy," he says. Whatever the holiday or special event, he has had fun and quirky clothes at his fingertips (except when he's a wedding guest – then he's found it's best to tone it down and not draw attention away from the bride and groom).
What's his source? It's located in Downtown Kenosha - Mike Bjorn's Fine Clothing, where "mild to wild" men's clothing is offered. While downtown has many locally-owned shops full of character and sometimes quirkiness, it doesn't get much quirkier than Mike Bjorn's!
Located at 5614 Sixth Avenue, Brett describes his family-owned business as "Wisconsin's largest men's clothing store". While his dad Mike is now semi-retired, Brett and his mom Judy are in the store. Brett's been with the business for 12 years, and the second-generation shopkeeper says "I love what I do." Mike saw a need for this type of store, and wanting to be in business for himself, this fun shop was born. The shop's existed for about 34 years and is in its third location, having expanded with each move! It's not your typical men's clothing store. As Brett says, they like to "keep it interesting". While standard tuxedos and suits are available to rent or buy, much, much more is available. And when it comes to the standard fare – the exact same tuxedos are offered at Mike Bjorn's for a lower cost than at chains because of low overhead. "Shop around – it pays off," Brett advises.
The customer base of Mike Bjorn's includes wedding parties, theater groups, prom attendees, average businessmen, wedding guests, and funeral attendees. And for out-of-town visitors who find they need something at the last minute? If need be, the shop can provide many items the same day or the next day, because they own the tuxedos. Brett thinks they are the only place around that can offer same day.
What will you find at Mike Bjorn's? There are the standard suits and tuxedos. In summer 2014, grey is the hottest item, and the shop carries light, medium, and dark grey. The next big thing is blue. And Brett points out, you can't go wrong with classic black. The beige/tan color is very popular for their beach wedding customers (the shop's located just blocks from Lake Michigan).
Keep in mind there are "wild to mild" offerings, including the accessories. Dress shirts, suspenders, bowties, standard ties, 95 cent ties, a variety of stylish hats, shoes, socks, kilts, vests, cumberbunds, and even women's garters during prom season are available. A hot item in the shop this year: jackets from Scotland – each one is completely unique. The most popular item in the store? The Hawaiian shirt. Make that, the AUTHENTIC Hawaiian shirts, as in they are made in Hawaii.
The shop's hidden gem? The more wild and vintage collection in the basement. Step down the stairs into a 'blast from the past'. "One of the things a lot of people don't know about Mike Bjorn's is we have a huge vintage selection as well here. My father Mike collected a lot of it before vintage was actually cool," Brett shares. He says Mike bought items that people thought were 'ugly' at the time. Those same items are now popular again and hard to find. Even the vintage selection is available to either rent or buy. It's popular with weddings, prom kids who want to stand out, and adults for wild parties. Tweed, elbow patches, plaid – it's all here. Theater groups are like "kids in a candy shop" when they visit this section of the store, according to Brett.
More Mild and Wild Facts:
- Children's sizes are available in some of the suit and tux rentals.
- Once, the store offered a school's entire band costume inventory, which had no problem finding new owners and selling out.
- Clothing in the store is organized by size, and standard, wild, vintage.
- The atmosphere – the décor – the props that are lying and hanging around – you have to see to believe! "We like to have fun here," Brett stresses.
"As a kid I always thought this place was pretty crazy. Then the older I got, it grew on me." Whether looking for mild or wild craziness, stop by Mike Bjorn's Fine Clothing in Downtown Kenosha. And ladies, you are more than welcome here! Take it from the two CVB ladies responsible for this spotlight. They had a blast trying on vintage jackets and hats, thinking of the 'Brady Bunch' era, and plotting their next Halloween costumes!