Local five-and-dime closing up shop

Above, Vi Houpt, an employee for all 21 years at the East Bremerton Six Star, organizes the shelves at the store which is closing at the end of May. Right, the sales at Six Star in East Bremerton will increase as the store nears its closing date. - Jesse Beals/staff photos
Above, Vi Houpt, an employee for all 21 years at the East Bremerton Six Star, organizes the shelves at the store which is closing at the end of May. Right, the sales at Six Star in East Bremerton will increase as the store nears its closing date.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/staff photos

t Six Star in East Bremerton will close in May after 21 years.

Richard Chavez has driven to the Six Star Store in East Bremerton for 19 years.

“My car knows the way here,” he said.

After 21 years in business, Chavez, the store manager, said the East Bremerton business will close at the end of May.

“It’s been fun, it’s been interesting to watch this business grow and change,” Chavez said.

Chavez said the Poulsbo and Port Orchard Six Star locations will remain open, but the East Bremerton store’s lease is up in May and the business is not making as much money as the owners had hoped it would.

“We’re not going out of business, we’re just reorganizing, reallocating to do business in the community,” Chavez said. “We’re just putting ourselves in a better position where we can continue to serve the community.”

Chavez’s father-in-law, Jim Whyte, opened the Six Star stores 21 years ago. Since then, he’s kept the business in the family. Chavez runs the East Bremerton store and Chavez’s brother-in-law is in charge of the Port Orchard location. Chavez’s three sons all worked in the East Bremerton store as well.

“All three of my sons have helped out here,” Chavez said. “They’ve all worked in the store. That’s how they got their spending money.”

Six Star is currently offering a 10 percent discount on all store merchandise and Chavez said the sales will continue through the end of May.

“Our goal is to liquidate the entire inventory,” he said. “Everything is for sale. Our goal is to sell it until it’s gone.”

Chavez said they have about $200,000 worth of merchandise to get rid of before May, including the light fixtures.

“We’re starting to see some empty shelves and open spaces, but we’re not where we need to be,” Chavez said. “As you can see we have a lot of merchandise left that we need to get rid of.”

Six Star sells “quality merchandise at a discounted price” ranging from framed artwork to toys to scrapbooking supplies. Customers are sad to see the store go, according to Chavez.

“It’s been a resounding ‘don’t go,’” he said.

Chavez said customers told him they will shop at the other Six Star locations, but continue to show their disappointment about the East Bremerton store’s closure.

“We’ve had a great response from the community,” Chavez said. “Almost everyday someone comes in and shakes their finger at me for leaving.”

Chavez said he will greatly miss the East Bremerton customers because he has watched many of them peruse the toy aisles as a child and now wander that same aisle with their own children. Chavez said he enjoys watching people’s faces “light up” when they find just what they’re looking for at Six Star.

“When you can do that for people it’s just a thrill to be able to do that,” Chavez said as tears welled in his eyes. “We just sell fun mostly. You never know what you’re going to find here.”

East Bremerton has changed since Six Star first opened and the competition is tough between the five-and-dime type stores, according to Chavez.

“The competition is fierce and everyone is fighting for that share of the consumer’s dollar,” he said.

Chavez said supporting local business is important and he hopes people will continue to support Six Star’s Poulsbo and Port Orchard stores.

“Support local business, that’s my credo. Every dollar you spend is critical to a local businessperson,” Chavez said. “Every dollar, it means a lot. Every dollar you spend is a vote of confidence.”

Chavez will work at another Six Star Store and most of the other East Bremerton employees are finding employment elsewhere when the store closes in May.

“They’re all finding other things, other jobs,” Chavez said.

Chavez said customers should keep an eye out as Six Star will continue to increase the store’s sale on merchandise as their closure date draws near.

“I’d like to thank this community for 21 great years,” Chavez said. “The customers are great. They’ve shopped with us since day one.”

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