Closing down: Terry Smith outside his store Clara Bows Boutique on Court Street. <em>*Photo by Kageaki Smith</em>
Closing down: Terry Smith outside his store Clara Bows Boutique on Court Street. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 31: A Court Street retailer is being forced to shut his doors after almost four years in business.

Terry Smith, owner of Clara Bows Boutique, will close the store in two weeks’ time.

He says the economic downturn has played heavily in his decision.

Speaking exclusively to the Bermuda Sun, Mr Smith said; “Financially, the store is not making it.

“Within the last eight months, I have been trying very, very hard. It’s been very unproductive in terms of sales and traffic.

“The major thing about retail is unless you have got a very strong capital, your goods have to sell otherwise there’s no revenue.

“That’s your only source of revenue.”

He continued: “Your only source is sales.  That’s where your money comes to buy new clothes and pay the bills. Luckily for me, there was no staff to pay.”

Mr Smith said he had part-time staff for the first three years but had to let them go.

Clara Bows has been his only source of income.

“Since 2012, it’s been the worst that I have ever experienced. And I can imagine what other businesses are going through.”

He continued: “I think closing is because of the economy.

“That’s definitely the main factor.

“If people don’t have jobs or are concerned about keeping their jobs, they’re holding on to their luxury money. Women aren’t buying on impulse.

“That traffic has ceased.”

Mr Smith said gang violence is a factor but isn’t the only reason for the store’s closure.

“Not just the gangs but people are still stuck on the negativity of Court Street.

“Since I have been here, I have never seen anyone being robbed or harassed. I think it’s the old image of Court Street.

Crime

“Maybe if it was to become a no tolerance crime area, maybe people would come. It was going on when sales were busy. I can’t blame it solely on that.”

Asked how he feels about closing the store that he opened in memory of his grandmother, Mr Smith said: “I am very sad. I have had my emotional moments.  I had to tell my mom, which was hard to do.”

Mr Smith said he also had to speak with Michelle Caldun of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation as the organisation helped him get a grant from the Economic Empowerment Zone.

He said while there are economic downturns all over Bermuda, the Court Street area has been hit hard: “I’ve seen six businesses close in this area.

“The traffic has come to a stop.  Luckily with Jamaican Grill next door, it welcomes traffic but if people are coming for food, they are coming for food.”

As for what’s next in his life, Mr Smith said: “I am looking forward to being employed in one of the hotels here. I’m waiting for some feedback.

“Life goes on. Unfortunately it’s a closing chapter but I have enjoyed the experience, my customers and the people I have met.”

He continued: “It’s not easy.  Life isn’t always pleasant and I think this is part of it.  It’s an experience and I’m not going to be sad.

“This has been a successful year for me but someone told me you need that balance.”

Merchandise at Clara Bows will be sold at large discounts.