For almost 50 years, women have browsed the racks and bought new outfits at Ann’s Contemporary Clothing in downtown San Luis Obispo.
In 1971, then-Cal Poly student Ann Reeves rented a storefront on a whim with a friend.
“We rented the store right there on the spot, $100 a month and that’s where it all started,” Reeves said.
The store later became her senior project at Cal Poly.
“We handmade all the clothing and jewelry,” she said.
Her project to make extra cash turned into a 47-year-long career.
“I figured after Cal Poly I would either close it or sell it but that never happened because we kept expanding.”
In 1976, the shop moved to a different location on Monterey St. and later expanded into the space next door where the Chamber of Commerce is currently.
In the nine years of having her shop at its current location on Morro St., she’s seen downtown change.
“They keep taking all our parking and they don’t put in any new parking,” said Reeves. “I hear complaints about it every single day.”
Online shopping is also taking a toll.
“I think brick and mortar in the future is going to have a tough time to stay alive, I really do, because of the internet.
Brenda Ramler was in town visiting family when she passed by Ann’s Clothing and saw the “going out of business” signs in the windows.
“Oh I’m sad because I’ve purchased things here over the years,” Ramler said.
She’s been shopping at Ann’s Clothing since the early 1990s and values in the in-person shopping experience.
“For me, I need to try things on. I like to see the colors,” she said. “The younger kids are doing all this online shopping but I just feel like we’re missing out on a lot of wonderful benefits by being able to shop locally.”
Following her intuition, Reeves has decided to close her store at the end of September.
Reeves offers this advice to budding entrepreneurs: “Find your niche, find a specialized business you think you can really excel in and that nobody else is doing.”
Reeves will be taking some time to travel before deciding what’s next for her professionally.
Another women’s clothing store, Apropros, which is currently across the street from Ann’s, will move into Ann’s and sell merchandise out of both storefronts on Morro St.