NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 16, 2010

'I can't do it anymore'

Market Square business to close doors Monday

NEWBURYPORT — The downtown clothing boutique Native Sun will close its doors Monday after 20 years in the city.

Owner John Darke said yesterday the decision to close comes from the economy.

The store is doing half the business it used to, and he's had to self-fund it for almost a year, Darke said.

"I can't do it anymore," he said.

Darke is closing all three of his Massachusetts stores. The other locations are in Andover and Sudbury.

"Retail is not what is was," Darke said. "People aren't shopping anymore, and if they are, they aren't buying clothes. People no longer have the money."

Darke owns the property in Market Square and has been trying to sell it for a year, but no one has been interested, he said. It is for sale; however, if there is no buyer, he does plan to lease it to a local company.

This weekend, Native Sun will offer a closing sale.

Manager Becky Colby said yesterday staff has started to notify customers.

"They're upset; they're sad we are leaving," she said.

Darke said he loved running the business.

"It was my passion for a very long time," he said.

He first started the business when he got out of college, as more of an import store. It then evolved into clothing, he said.

"People loved it," he said.

In it's heyday, the store was hugely successful, and he was able to expand the storefront, Darke said. Their best year was 2005, he said.

This year, the holiday season drew in half of the business it used to, Darke said.

Colby said staff first noticed in September of last year that people weren't shopping as much.

"They were more frugal with their money," she said.

Instead of buying whole outfits, they would buy either a shirt or pants, rather than both.

"I think you're going to see a lot of stores closing," Darke said.

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