Ladies boutique in mall closing down
A Hamilton retail institution is to close its doors today for the final time.
Grant’s Ladies Boutique, on the upper level of Washington Mall, has fallen victim to a variety of factors including changing customer habits, according to owners Ervin and Deborah Grant.
“Online shopping has killed retail everywhere, worldwide,” says Mr Grant, 78, who opened his first clothing boutique 48 years ago. “Business has slowed down, it’s been very slow.”
Mrs Grant added: “A lot of old clients, our customers, have left the island and gone to England. There is also unemployment, people don’t have money like they used to.
“People used to have more money, and we paid lower rent. Now, it’s the opposite. People have no money, and we have higher rent.”
The couple had hoped to sell the business as a going concern.
Mrs Grant said: “A few people have come in, but nothing has come of it. They probably went home, and talked about it. I guess it’s a big undertaking. We were hoping someone would take it — all they would have to do is move in.”
She said customers are dropping by to sign a book of well wishes.
“Most are saying ‘town will never be the same without you, we will miss you’,” she said. “Some are in tears, it’s very emotional.”
Mr Grant’s first boutique, opened in the early 1970s, was London Town, which sold men’s and women’s clothes from a location on the upper level of Walker Arcade. Two other boutiques, Flying Dutchman and Sock it to ‘Em, were nearby, Mrs Grant recalls.
“It was all boutiques on the upper level,” said Mrs Grant, 64, who began working at the shop full-time after leaving school and married Ervin in 1973. “We sold funky clothes with flashing lights, and UFO jeans in bright colours.”
Mr Grant, who opened his first store backed by a bank loan of £500, eventually had a chain of boutiques including Sugar Sugar, 14th Street, and Deborah’s. At the latter store, Mrs Grant recalled, rent was $375 per month.
He also made a brief foray into the restaurant business, opening up a short-lived pizza joint named Ervintino’s in the Imperial Building on Church Street.
Just the mention of that name has family members chuckling years later. Mrs Grant said: “He had been to New York, pizza in Bermuda then wasn’t like it is now.”
Mr Grant also ran T-shirt Palace, a shop selling T-shirts and souvenirs in the Emporium Building on Front Street. “We were open 8am until midnight,” he says. “No one else was open at night.”
Grant’s Ladies Boutique was a fixture on Washington Lane for some 30 years before moving to its current 999-square-foot location in the mall’s newer section four years ago.
Mr Grant became known for giving discounts to customers who had difficulty affording the items they wanted, his wife said, adding: “He is very generous like that.”
Today, prices are slashed for one final time on ladies’ clothing, bags, jewellery, and accessories, and children’s shoes.
Come February, Mr Grant said he, too, will have an online presence to sell dress shoes, work shoes, children’s shoes and “African apparel”.
He said: “It’s very popular, the African apparel.”
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