By Mary O’KEEFE
The past economy woes have hit most people and businesses hard, and small “mom and pop” businesses seem to take the hardest hit when the economy dips. The small shops had already faced competition from big box stores and the Internet prior to the recent downturn. But in Montrose and Crescenta Valley, the economy is only part of the reason some businesses keep their doors open and why some owners have decided to close.
At the corner of Honolulu Avenue and Ocean View Boulevard is Faye’s.
“We opened this store in 1959,” said Pat Grant, owner of Faye’s. Grant’s aunt, who began the business, had, at one time, three different locations along Honolulu Avenue. Faye’s store on the northeast corner has weathered economic lows and highs by maintaining a loyal customer base and by always bringing in something new to attract a younger shopper.
“We still have some of our original customers,” Grant said of her clientele who have been with her since the ’50s.
One of Grant’s advantages is that she owns the building Faye’s is in and being her own landlord has been a big advantage.
But when it comes down to it, the success of the store comes from her customers who are in the area – and far away.
“Customers come from all over,” she added. Faye’s has items that are not easy to get anywhere else and knowledgeable employees.
While Faye’s carries on, another longtime store closed its doors along Honolulu Avenue for the last time this week. Victori Ana has been in Montrose for over 20 years. Its owner, Marilyn Caruthers, recently passed away and her family decided to close the business.
“Victori Ana had such an elegant presentation,” said Dale Dawson, business administrator for the Montrose Shopping Park Association.
The store had specialty items for the home and in a way was like a portal back to the 1940s and ’50’s with tables beautifully decorated with glassware and flowers.
Dawson said Marilyn’s style of store was the end of era.
Walking along Honolulu Avenue, there is noticeably less clothing and retail stores and many more restaurants and exercise businesses.
“Traditionally retail stores [that move out] are not being replaced by other retail stores,” Dawson said.
He added that retail is difficult in today’s economy. Internet purchasing and larger stores have taken a toll on the small businesses. That being said, Montrose Shopping Park is still holding on to some of its retail stores and is adding new ones.
Frank’s Tailors at 3806 Ocean View Blvd. closed its doors not because of the economy, but because the owner retired. In its place will be J’Adore Boutique. Owner Andrian Stark has worked in fashion for years, designing for many, including actress Jennifer Hudson.
“This is the first time I am opening a brick and mortar,” Stark said.
Her store will carry women’s contemporary fashions and some jewelry. Stark is well aware of the area; she fell in love with Montrose and has moved to the area since deciding to open her store.
Stark’s items will be reasonably priced, she said, and will offer a variety for women of all ages. Her store will open on April 17.
The Flowering Tree has been on Honolulu Avenue for 23 years. Owner Christine Stafford’s store has filled a void after several religious-based stores have closed.
“We are one of the last remaining religious stores in the area,” she said. “In the last two years about a half a dozen have closed their doors.”
The Flowering Tree carries books, jewelry, decorations and more. Stafford had planned to stay in her store for her entire life; however, that is no longer possible.
“I have MS [Multiple Sclerosis],” she said. “I have done pretty well over the years but my doctors are strongly advising me that I need to back off from [my business] and find something less stressful.”
Instead of just closing the doors, Stafford has been trying to sell her business.
“My idea was to sell the store and guide [whoever bought it],” she said. “I was thinking it was going to be easy.”
What she has found is that many are interested but no one yet can actually come through with the capital to buy their own business. At this point if she does not find anyone, The Flowering Tree will close its business at the end of this month.
This prospect is troubling to Stafford.
“I love this business and the people of the community,” she said.
Next week CVW will look at the shops along Foothill Boulevard and in coming weeks will highlight the unusual and special “mom and pop” shops in our area.
CVW would like to hear from readers on what you would like to see along Honolulu Avenue, Foothill Boulevard and in our local area. Would you like more clothing stores? More home shops? More for kids or teens? Let us know in letters or online at CVWeekly.com.