Longtime collector of vintage clothing dies after fall in Superior warehouseA well-known collector who shared his countless vintage pieces with the community died Thursday night after he fell down an elevator shaft in Superior.
By: Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune
A well-known collector who shared his countless vintage pieces with the community died Thursday night after he fell down an elevator shaft in Superior.
Doug Moen, 65, was working in a warehouse on the 1500 block of North First Street when he fell
8 feet down the shaft. He died at the hospital later that night.
Superior police are investigating the details.
“I feel like I’ve lost a brother,” longtime friend Eric Ringsred said Friday. “I don’t know who will replace him. I’ve told people for years, I’ve never known a finer human than Doug Moen.”
Jimmy Love, 22, was with Moen when he fell. They were moving a couch into the warehouse where Moen was caretaker.
“He went to run and hit the lights and fell down an elevator shaft,” Love said.
Moen was struggling with his legs and complained of shoulder pain, Love said. Love and another man who was working with them took Moen by van to Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Hospital-Superior.
Love said he was crushed when he got the call that Moen had died. He had done odd jobs for him for years.
“He was great to work for,” Love said. “He was always fair to his guys. He’d help if you were down and out. If you needed
10 bucks to get you to the next day, he’d give it to you. He had a lot of employees he did that for.”
Moen’s famous collection of dresses, suits, shoes, shirts and props was housed in about a dozen spaces over the years. He spent the longest time — 15 years — in a 6,000-square-foot shop on Tower Avenue in Superior. Moen told the News Tribune in 2005 that he had another 45,000 square feet worth of vintage items stashed in warehouses and basements.
Halloween was his peak period and Moen favored the authentic.
“I’m into doing the fairies, princesses, gangsters and flappers,” he told the News Tribune. “I’m not into the plastic gore and polyester.”
Ringsred said Moen never charged much for the use of his pieces.
“He’s a true artist,” he said. “You’d go into his costume shop … and it was like magic in there.”
His first shop was Second Act Costume Shop on First Street in Duluth, which he opened in 1977.
Diana von Rabenau met Moen while she was in college and ended up working with him for 25 years. She said he was like a father to her.
He was a shy, sweet man who never went out on Halloween. He didn’t want the people wearing his costumes to be uncomfortable when he ran into them.
“He was a romantic,” she said. “When he wasn’t working and hauling stuff around, he’d be dressed to the nines and perfect. He had an incredible tie collection that was only for himself. He had the perfect suits tucked way. He knew how to dress and look good all the time.”
His items were worn in community theater productions, high school plays and in the movies “Far North,” “Iron Will,” “North Country” and “A Prairie Home Companion.”
Moen sold his collection to the A.H. Zeppa Foundation in the mid-2000s, but eventually it was returned to him.
Moen’s costume collection is boxed and in warehouses in Duluth and Superior.
Von Rabenau said it was always Moen’s dream to have it housed in a big mansion in rooms separated by periods.
“You’d step into that room and be transported to that era,” she said.
But everything would also be available for public use, she said.
“It would be hands on.”
Ringsred said he thinks that would be the best way to honor Moen.
“There needs to be a place where it can be used,” he said.
Outside of the vintage collection, Moen was known for never denying a favor to anyone who asked. Ringsred said Moen was a representative payee for people receiving Social Security and he helped the homeless find homes and gave them work.
“Everybody from rich to poor knows him,” agreed Richard Cihoski, who owned Dove Antiques and Collectibles on Superior Street in the 1990s. “My guts went into a twist when I heard this.”