After practically a century, Herlihy’s set to shut Florence


NORTHAMPTON — Herlihy’s girls’s attire retailer will shut its doorways for the final time on Nov. 30 after practically a century as an anchor of Florence Middle’s historic Parsons Block.

Till then, the shop is providing steep reductions in an effort to filter out the stock on the gross sales ground. Proprietor Linda Warburton can be trying to rehome her basement-level treasure trove of historic packing containers and packaging from different Northampton shops which have closed, like Bon Marché, McCallum’s and Peck & Peck.

Edward and Alice Herlihy opened the store at 76 North Maple St. in 1927. Their daughter, additionally Alice Herlihy, owned and ran it for greater than 4 a long time, from 1948-89, then bought it to her worker Jean Ansanitis.

Warburton, a Florence native who as soon as owned Northampton Bridal on Nice Road, stated she went to highschool with Ansanitis’ daughter from kindergarten by way of twelfth grade and purchased Herlihy’s in 2002 as a 42-year-old single mom risking all the pieces. In 2005, Warburton informed the Gazette that she dreamed of protecting Herlihy’s open lengthy sufficient to mark a century in enterprise.

“I used to buy right here with my mother after I was little,” Warburton stated on Thursday. “I simply keep in mind it so properly. I’d get three pairs of (Bonnie Dunn) socks and my mom would get a brand new shirt, and it was such an enormous deal. … It’s simply very charming. There’s nothing like this, for my part.”

Requested if the closure was associated to the sale of the constructing to Blue Mountain Properties LLC in June and up to date lease will increase, she stated “unequivocally” that there isn’t a connection. She stated the shop may afford the brand new lease, however the time has come for her to retire.

“I’ll be 64. It’s very exhausting work, however I get pleasure from it. I’ve no regrets and I’m actually glad I took the plunge,” she stated. “It was a thriving, wholesome enterprise. It’s simply time for me — and my household — to hold up my skates.”

She did say, although, that the brand new financial realities of the COVID-19 pandemic “set the desk for this.” When companies reopened after months of mandated closures, some common prospects had been hesitant to go away the home, or they entered shops for recreation somewhat than shopping for. Retail remains to be not the identical, though the bell above the door at Herlihy’s was ringing time and again on Thursday.

Sara Lasser Yau of Florence went to Herlihy’s together with her mom, Judi Lasser, for his or her conventional purchasing journey that morning. Lasser had pushed from her residence in Needham to spend the day within the village middle together with her daughter, as she has carried out many instances over the past six years.

“A part of the enjoyable goes purchasing collectively, however we at all times stroll out with one thing improbable,” Lasser Yau stated. “Nice garments, nice colours. And issues that match.”

“Beautiful proprietor,” Lasser added. “And stuff you don’t see different locations.”

“Linda at all times remembers my identify and that my mother comes to go to and the place my youngsters are at school,” Lasser Yau stated. “I’m shopping for one of many issues she recommended I attempt on at this time.”

Years in the past, Warburton stated she thought of rebranding and altering the identify of the shop, however determined towards it out of respect for Alice Herlihy. The important thing to long-term success, she found, was working exhausting for the shoppers.

“Lots of people discouraged me (from shopping for Herlihy’s) as a result of it wasn’t a shiny retailer. It was a bit of dated. It bought plenty of bras and underwear and nightgowns and housecoats,” she recalled. “It simply type of developed by way of phrase of mouth and caring for my prospects, and actually looking for out what they wished.”

At the moment, she stated, the store caters to “a mature, older girl who likes basic clothes with a bit of little bit of an edge. Nothing loopy, you already know? And I at all times attempt to purchase ‘Made in america.’”

Warburton’s son — now 26 — used to hop off the varsity bus and stroll all the way down to the shop, usually with associates, to do homework and play video video games within the completed basement till the top of the workday.

“We’d get pizza at A-1 after college and his associates would come down right here. They thought it was so cool! ‘Let’s go to Jack’s retailer and hang around!” she stated. “After they received older, I’d give them cash they usually’d go to Pleasant’s.”

Within the store’s early days, the basement was a toy retailer. Now, it’s a repository of old-timey retail memorabilia, like classic hats and an vintage money register as soon as utilized by Herlihy’s clerks.

“I’ve to do one thing with it, proper?” she stated. No matter is left after the going-out-of-business sale will possible be donated to a hospice program or one other nonprofit.

Warburton stated she plans to spend extra time together with her household and her Burmese mountain canine, and “perform a little yoga. Some kayaking. Simply, type of, take it a bit of slower.”

Brian Steele might be reached at bsteele@gazettenet.com.



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