Photos by Caitlin Abrams
Atmosfere co-owner Damon Capetz in his North Loop storefront
Damon Capetz, who co-owns Atmosfere with his father Dan, takes the lead at their new North Loop store.
While other retailers clamor to land a spot in the hottest Minneapolis neighborhood, Atmosfere, the Calhoun Square contemporary men’s store, wasn’t even looking to move to the North Loop. Father-son owners Dan and Damon Capetz were simply exploring Uptown properties when their real estate agent urged them to check out just one North Loop location. The garden-level space on Washington Avenue had all the hipster necessities: concrete floors, brick walls, exposed ducts, and wrought iron windows. They signed, and as a result, Atmosfere is finally beginning to command the respect it deserves after a decade of business.
In a neighborhood known for its minimalist aesthetic and if-you-have-to-ask-you-can’t-afford-it price tags, Atmosfere takes itself less seriously. The clothes are colorful; the prices are approachable.
With the North Loop location, Atmosfere is getting back into women’s fashion (not available at Calhoun Square), carrying items like trendy tops and casual dresses. “This is the Uptown of the ’80s,” Dan says. He would know: Dan owned Calhoun Square store Dimitrius during the mall’s ’80s heyday (think: Miami Vice white blazers and neon shirts).
Dan went on to work as a men’s manager and buyer for Neiman Marcus and helped launch short-lived menswear brand Kuhlman before feeling the familiar pull to once again open his own store. He debuted Atmosfere at Gaviidae Common, and after two ho-hum years, moved to Calhoun Square. His son Damon, now 29, joined him in 2007, working his way up from the sales floor to co-owner.
But keeping up with the company has been challenging. Atmosfere bounced from location to location within Calhoun Square before moving to a street-front spot at Lake and Hennepin, and then going back to Calhoun Square, where it is currently on the second floor. There was an all black, white, and blue period; a skateboarding phase; and a time when Atmosfere went heavy on embellished jeans. At one point, Dan had a second store called Suit Up, but formalwear got rolled into Atmosfere, which has become a popular resource for wedding parties. Groomsmen can get outfitted in a slim-fitting suit, shirt, and tie for $250.
Now serving nearly 100 grooms’ parties a year, Dan and Damon are considering turning their Uptown store into a custom suiting destination, and making North Loop their flagship contemporary apparel boutique.
It’s still a work in progress, and this father and son enjoy figuring it out together, with Damon adding new lines such as locally made Marked Leather and Mill City Fineries, and Dan keeping a close eye on the bottom line.
“He’s looking at how much money we have in inventory; I just know we need more swimsuits,” Damon says.
“I want to let him make this his own,” says Dan, who can’t resist unbuttoning shirt collars on mannequins, while Damon follows behind, buttoning them again. “But he still has a few things to learn.”
730 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-333-1843, facebook.com/afmosfere