Tough time in Old Town
By RACHEL BRANT
Central Kitsap Reporter Staff writer
August 13, 2009 · Updated 3:02 PM
A Company of Friends latest to announce plans to close up shop.
The company of friends who opened A Company of Friends several years ago recently decided it’s time to call it quits.
“I went home kind of in a daze, but for the sake of our families, something had to be done,” said Margie Kluth, an owner.
Kluth, Judith Rowson and Melanie Dormaier will close their country gift shop along Byron Street in Old Town Silverdale Saturday, Aug. 29.
“The economy has really hit us hard,” Rowson said. “We really rely on Whaling Days to bring up our sales and this year our sales were about a third of what they were.”
A Company of Friends has been in Old Town Silverdale for four years and Rowson said she’s sad to see so many retail shops leave the waterfront area.
“There really isn’t much left,” she said. “People say they forget about Old Town.”
Kluth said it was a “total surprise” when they came to the conclusion that closing the gift shop needed to be done because they never discussed it in the past and their loyal customers are sad to see the gift shop packing up.
“They’re all saddened to hear we’re closing,” Rowson said. “A lot of them say it’s their favorite gift shop.”
Other Old Town Silverdale businesses are sad to see A Company of Friends moving out, but businesses seem to come and go in Old Town.
“It has been very difficult for two years. It’s been a slow progression,” said Sammy Knox, owner of McGregor & Company on Lowell Street. “I’m told continually that people don’t want us to close, but it’s really tough.”
McGregor & Company, also a county gift shop, has been in Old Town Silverdale for 14 years and Knox said her husband asked the county about posting a sign along State Highway 3 directing people to Old Town in 1995, but was told there was “nothing of interest in Old Town.”
“We can do all the advertising in the world, but the county itself won’t recognize Old Town,” Knox said. “The county won’t direct people to me because I’m one road away from the main thoroughfare (Silverdale Way). I just feel that we should be put on the map a little more than we are.”
While some businesses are struggling, TeeDee Company on Carlton Street is doing well.
“We’re rocking and rolling,” TeeDee co-owner Victoria Brazeau said. “We’ve seen our traffic actually increase in the past two months.”
The furniture and home decor consignment shop has been in Old Town Silverdale seven years and their Web site and word-of-mouth advertising has their business booming.
“I think our best advertisement is ladies who shop,” Brazeau said.
With new businesses, like Kataluma Chai and Sylvan Learning Center, moving into Old Town Silverdale, Brazeau thinks business will begin to pick up for the other shops in the area.
“I don’t think it’s so sad and desolate down here like everyone says,” she said. “I think it’s kind of on the upswing, honestly. People are coming down here, people are shopping.”
A Company of Friends is currently offering 35 percent off all merchandise and Rowson said they hope to start an online business by Sept. 1 at www.countrygiftware.com.