CRANBURY, NJ – Charmed By Claire, the busy women’s accessory store on North Main Street, is closing its doors for the last time today.
Owner Claire Morris said this morning that she may end the day before 5 p.m. if the customers in the packed shop can be taken care of before the normal closing time.
Morris, who decided to close and retire in June, has run the successful boutique for the last 15 years and has drawn customers from throughout the state.
News of the store’s closing initially brought lines of loyal customers looking for a last deal stretching down the sidewalk outside of the building.
Morris said in June that the decision to close the store was very difficult and personal, but that “it was the right time.”
“It's just a personal decision, it's a family decision, so that's why I'm retiring,” she said at the time. “This was a huge decision for me to make.”
Attributing a large part of her success to the women who work for her, Morris said that they are “the magic” of Charmed by Claire.
“I used to call them my gold girls, but they're made out of platinum, actually,” she said.
Not counting the seasonal help, Morris said that she employed eight women at the store.
She said that the individual customer service she and her staff provided gave customers a unique and tailored experience that is hard to duplicate at a larger chain store.
While many customers wished Morris well in her future endeavors, they still were saddened that the store was actually closing.
One customer entering the store about a week after the announcement, half-jokingly told Morris “I’m not talking to you.”
Mayor Jay Taylor and fellow business owners in the tight-knitted community also wished Morris well on a personal level, but said they were also mindful of the impact closing the store will have on the downtown.
Following the June announcement, Taylor said that he will feel the repercussions of Morris' decision to call it a career the next time a gift-obligatory occasion rolls around.
“Personally, I'm upset because it was always the go-to spot for Mother's Day and for birthdays,” he said, with a laugh. “It was easy. So she's totally destroying my life by retiring.”
According to Mayor Taylor, predicting the impact of the store's closing on the downtown economy isn't as straightforward as it might seem.
“It certainly is going to impact it, because everybody went to Claire's,” he said. “There was a lot of foot traffic because of Claire's. But it's hard to say, because if an equivalent business goes in, it's not going to have an impact.”
Teddy's Restaurant Manager George Nikitiades said in June that he's sad to see Claire's close up shop and move out.
“They've been a staple in the community for six plus years and there's a little bit of a shock to see them go,” he said. “They were always good customers and obviously good business people.”
Two doors down from Claire's, Studio 43 Hair Design Owner Juliana Lako also said then that she couldn't be happier for Morris.
“I'm actually really excited for Claire,” she said. “It sounds like she did so well that she's now ready for the next step of her life. I'm happy that she's going to be able to spend it with her husband.”
The other business owners all said that Morris was always an encouraging force in the downtown business community, always there for advice.
“The things and lessons that I learned from Claire … She could just walk into a room, and when she leaves, you're just so excited about whatever it is you're doing that you want to just be a better person because of who she is,” Lako said.