Aca Joe’s History
Joe Rank, a Los Angeles broadcasting executive who had managed KMEX-TV, the Spanish language TV station in Los Angeles, moved to Mexico in 1973 to establish a printed tee shirt business on the beach resorts which were booming with international tourism. By 1978, Rank had shops in 75 stores in Acapulco, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán, and Mexico City, plus tee shirt shops in 15 of the popular Carlos n’ Charlie’s bars and restaurants throughout Mexico.
In 1983, the name was changed to Aca Joe and product distribution was limited only to Aca Joe owned or franchised stores. The line was expanded to include pants, jackets, sweaters, and more than just tee shirts. After changing to this more exclusive distribution of the product, the stores were swamped with customers. Lines were formed in front of the stores with people waiting to get in at all hours of the day.
The success of Aca Joe did not go without notice by international investors, and soon a deal was made with American partners for the expansion of Aca Joe outside of Mexico. William Meyer became Rank’s partner in Aca Joe International and the first stores in the U.S. were opened in the Bay Area of San Francisco, with shops in Union Square, Sausalito, and the Stanford Shopping Center.
The U.S. shops were very successful, and to provide financing for expansion, the new U.S. company filed for listing on the NASDAQ stock exchange. Prospects for the future of the stores were bright, and in 1985 Aca Joe International was the fasted rising stock on NASDAQ.
Over the course of 2 years, 100 Aca Joe shops were opened in the U.S. and Great Britain, but the company began experiencing problems with their supply chain. Rank was having disagreements with his new partners regarding the solutions to the problems which led to him selling the U.S. trademarks to the company. By the early 1990’s, stores in the U.S. began closing, and by the end of the decade there were no Aca Joe stores left in the U.S. and Rank bought the U.S. trademarks back from the owners.
The Mexican stores never became part of the U.S. operation and had continued growing to 35 stores. Feeling the competition from the international fast fashion brands, Rank closed the stores in 2003 and licensed the brands, providing design and product development, to Soriana and Comercial Mexicana where there are now 150 Aca Joe and 150 Aca Women shops in Soriana’s finest stores.