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After 20 years, Paula Brown Shop on Monroe Street is closing

The Paula Brown Shop, a Toledo retailer that has been offering customers fine and unusual gifts for 20 years in downtown Toledo, is calling it quits.

The store’s owners, Paula and Peter Brown, of Perrysburg, said they have decided to ease into retirement by closing their business. The couple plans to relax, enjoy visiting with their grandchildren, and travel, starting with a trip to Ireland.

But they plan to keep afloat two other businesses associated with the shop, The Pub at the Paula Brown Shop and the Paula Brown Art Gallery.

“It’s time. Twenty years is a good run,” Mrs. Brown said. “In March we were planning for our 20th Christmas here at the store. Then I got to thinking about it and thought, ‘You know, it’s a lot of work,’” she added.

The store, located at 912 Monroe St., is holding a special invitation-only sale for loyal customers from Thursday through July 17. Afterward, an open sale will continue until everything, including the store’s fixtures, are sold. There is no official closing date.

The couple is using a store-closing consultant, who advised them it would be best to close the store now and sell all the contents. “Economically, it’s by far the best route to go,” Mr. Brown said.

In a special letter mailed to customers this past week, the Browns announced their upcoming retirement-and-store-closing liquidation sale — a move that caught many patrons by surprise.

The Browns said they considered selling the business, but that presented complications.

“My name is behind this. If it had a more generic name, like Jazz or the Country Store, that would be different,” Mrs. Brown said.

But since the day back in October, 1999, when the couple decided to open a store, they have run it with a clear vision and didn’t feel comfortable entrusting that vision to others.

“Our philosophy has always remained the same,” Mrs. Brown said. “I opened a store with miniature departments — baby items, kitchen items, wedding items. The things in my store are like the things you’d find in small boutiques within a bigger store.”

Mr. Brown said the idea for the Paula Brown Shop actually came from the former Jacobson’s Department Store at Franklin Park Mall. Jacobson’s, a department store full of high end items with several boutiques within, did not close until 2002, but Mr. Brown said that by late 1999 “the handwriting was on the wall” for the retailer that eventually went into bankruptcy.

Mrs. Brown was ending her term as a board member of the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo and wasn’t sure what she would do. She thought she might open a store, and Mr. Brown said the couple moved very quickly from an idea to signing a lease.

The Paula Brown Shop opened on Jefferson Avenue in the Davis Building. Then, in 2005 the couple renovated a 135-year-old building which became their present location on Monroe Street. The shop occupies the 7,000-square-foot first floor.

Mrs. Brown opened the art gallery in 2000, an idea she originally toyed with instead of opening a store. It moved to the Monroe Street site in 2005.

And five years ago Mr. Brown thought up The Pub as a way of drawing business to the Paula Brown Shop.

The Pub — a full-service bar located in the Paula Brown Shop that features live music and special events — has become a favorite gathering spot for downtown residents. The Pub will continue to fill its niche role downtown, Mr. Brown said.

The Browns said they had been considering closing their business for some time, and thought they might drag it out through the end of the year. Christmas is always a special time at the shop.

But the Browns said they recognized they didn’t want to put in the required effort.

“At some point, you start thinking, ‘What are we going to do? How are we going to get out of this thing?’” Mr. Brown said. “It’s been in the back of our mind for a while now. We’re exhausted,” he added.

Plus, retail has changed and business is not as good as it was before the 2008 recession, Mr. Brown said.

Customers have learned to cut costs by shopping online and though business improved, it’s not like it was before, he said.

So with all their bills paid and a clear exit strategy before them, they agreed with the adviser to close as quickly as possible. The couple, who have been married 43 years, said it was the best move.

“I’m a people person. I think I’m going to miss this a lot. … But it’s time to say good-bye,” Mrs. Brown said.


Posted By: The Toledo Blade on July 8, 2019.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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