David D. Miller dies at 86; founder of the Miller’s Outpost retail chain

David D. Miller, founder of the Miller’s Outpost retail chain that became a shopping mall staple in California and eventually became known as Anchor Blue, has died. He was 86.

Miller died Oct. 8 from congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after a six-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, according to a statement by his family.

In 1947, with his brother Lou, he opened Miller’s Surplus, an Army and Navy surplus goods store that became a small chain of stores in Southern California.


In the late 1960s, he founded Miller’s Outpost, a retail clothing chain that specialized in selling jeans, his family said.

After growing the chain to about 100 Miller’s Outpost stores, Miller sold the company to retailing group Amcena Corp. in 1980, according to a Times story. The Anchor Blue name was introduced shortly after as the Miller’s Outpost store brand.

By 1989 the popular family-oriented apparel chain — which sold jeans, casual wear and accessories — had expanded to more than 300 stores in California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and other states.

“What Miller’s Outpost did was turn a commodity business into a fashion business,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at market research firm NPD Group. “In essence, when you look at where we are today with a lot of retail stores, many of them kind of got their roots from Miller’s Outpost.”

About a decade ago, the company began renaming its stores “Anchor Blue” to reflect its in-store brand and to better connect with trendy teen consumers who had become its core customer base.

Today, Corona-based Anchor Blue competes with PacSun, American Eagle Outfitters and Old Navy in the teen market.

Miller, a Los Angeles native, was born July 26, 1924, and most recently lived in Palos Verdes Estates. He graduated from Fremont High School in Los Angeles and attended a community college in San Diego before graduating from Compton Junior College.

In addition to his retail business, Miller also had a career in residential, commercial and industrial real estate. He founded and ran Kodash, a development company specializing in Southern California real estate projects.

Miller is survived by his wife, Denyse; a sister, Ruth Kahn, of Tustin; sons Thomas of Alta Loma and Dennis of Pacific Palisades; daughters Alison of Laguna Beach, Marisa of Brentwood and Deidre of Cardiff-by-the-Sea; and 16 grandchildren.

“He loved his family and friends but also cared deeply about the customers who made his business,” Miller’s children said in a statement. “His desire to bring great value to families and to help them is what drove him as a businessman, a husband and a father, and he was wonderful at all three.”