Longtime downtown retailer to close in favor of online, pop-up stores
The “pop-up” trend that I’ve long been a fan of involves my toaster and a case of Pop Tarts. But in the retail world, the trend is “pop-up stores,” and it isn’t always as satisfying. Case in point: One of downtown Lawrence’s longest running retailers is closing its doors in favor of the pop-up store model.
The owner of the import-export boutique Adorned has announced she is closing the store at 5 E. Seventh St. Alia Sachedina said that she is instead going to focus on selling the store’s unique items from around the world via her online store, and will host throughout the year a few pop-up stores, which are just what they sound like — a store that opens up at a location for just a few weeks at a time.
When the store closes — likely in the next 8 to 10 weeks — it will bring an end to a longtime downtown story. Alia’s mother, Elizabeth Kurata, opened the store in 1985. Its original name was African Adorned because Kurata primarily was selling necklaces, bracelets and Kenyan bags that Kurata had accumulated while living in Africa for most of the previous decade. The store eventually expanded beyond African products and changed its name to Adorned. In 2007, Alia took over for her mother, operating out of the same storefront that isn’t exactly a recipe for downtown retail success. It is off Massachusetts Street, and it is in a lower level that requires shoppers to go down a set of stairs to even find the store.
“We have had most everything stacked against our success, but despite it, we have been a really successful family business for a long time,” Alia said.
Now, the business is getting ready for a new chapter: One that no longer involves a traditional brick-and-mortar retail store. It is a common story in the retail industry these days.
Alia said she has three young children, and her desire to have a more flexible work arrangement is part of the reason she decided to close the brick-and-mortar store. But she also acknowledged that traditional retail is going through a disruptive time as more shoppers do their buying online. But, unlike some in the industry, she has some optimism that brick-and-mortar will make a comeback — eventually.
“Mom-and-pop businesses are what bring soul to a town,” Alia said. “Currently they are struggling, but long term, I think they are going to make a resurgence. Towns will recognize what they’ve lost and they’ll want it back.”
In the meantime, Alia is glad that the pop-up store model is an option. She doesn’t have details about where or when she will open up pop-up stores, but she indicated she would do so three or four times a year.
“We have some very loyal followers, so I love the idea of being able to set up a store a few times a year and still be able to see them,” she said.
Adorned started an online store in April, and Alia said the closing of the brick-and-mortar store will give her the time to expand the online store’s offerings. As for what the store sells, it has a variety of merchandise that Alia and her family have found as they’ve traveled the world, but there’s an emphasis on ethnic and sterling silver jewelry, she said.
“We are all global travelers,” Alia said of her family. “We have found items from all over the world.”
Indeed, the business has really been a family affair. Alia said she’s been part of the store since she was 8 years old, but she said the decision to close the store has been a little easier because her mother has been very supportive of her plans.
“But it was a painstaking decision,” Alia said. “It kept me up many nights.”
The store is currently discounting most of its items by 20 percent to 50 percent until it closes.