When the longtime men's store on Main Street, Kaps, closed on March 1, 2009, after 19 years, downtown business owner Merit Tukiainen feared what might become of her lingerie business.
"When Kaps closed, I knew it was a sign that meant men were curbing spending. I knew women would follow," said Tukiainen.
And they did.
Night & Day, a specialty store for women's lingerie at 93 Park St., will close Saturday, May 21 after nearly eight years in town.
That's just days before the new bridal building at 1-7 Main St. - ironically, the old Kaps site - is set to open. The bridal business grand opening is Tuesday, May 24. "I wish them nothing but success," Tukiainen said of the building's tenants.
She said it's the "economic reality of my business," and that's why she is closing.
"Andover is a great place to shop...Downtown is inviting, nicely-kept and we've got a great location near highways," Tukiainen said. "But I made a business decision to close...I did everything to reduce costs but the decision was made."
So, the upscale lingerie shop that opened in November 2003 is no more. Her Newburyport lingerie shop closed during January 2009, just shy of two years after opening. That store also had declining sales and dwindling customers.
These days, the shaky economy means shoppers are more bargain-focused and looking for great sales. Tukiainen said attentive, personal service matters less in business these days. She believes the new shopping attitude "doesn't sustain" businesses like Night & Day, where personal attention to customers reigned like Miss America.
Tukiainen, a longtime Andover Business Center Association activist, said she will continue to work with the downtown Andover business group. ABCA meets regularly and its focus is attracting more shoppers downtown. Tukiainen helped launch ABCA's first downtown street party, Andover Day, and has watched it blossom into a event that attracts thousands.
She'll miss her customers the most, but is getting a kick of their devotion to having a piece of Night & Day. She has sold all the fixtures in her Victorian-themed shop. The new bridal building's biggest tenant, Cristina's, will have some of her shelves, she said.
"Now they are spread out in different houses (and businesses) around Andover," she laughed. "It makes me feel good."