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Sarasota Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009 10 years ago

Late hours could take hit

by: Robin Roy City Editor

When casual-clothing store Jake’s Downtown made the surprise announcement last week that it had closed, it not only took with it one of downtown Sarasota’s most passionate merchants, but it also claimed the biggest proponent of stores keeping late-night hours.

Some merchants are hoping that the demise of Jake’s Downtown doesn’t discourage storeowners who were considering keeping later hours.

“It was a blow to morale,” said Wendy Getchell, president of the Downtown Sarasota Alliance.

Jake’s Downtown owner Andrea Rankin is the former president of the Downtown Merchants Association. In that role, she led a push for merchants to keep their doors open until 9 p.m., saying 40% of her sales came after 5 p.m. and that the 8-to-9 p.m. hour was her single best hour of the day.

Rankin had a few takers, such as Toy Lab and Stitch Boutique, which saw their sales jump at night as well, but most stores continued to keep their usual hours, closing at 5 or 6 p.m.

Getchell said she fears the impact Jake’s closure may have on merchants who were on the fence about late-night hours.

“My feeling is until we get everyone on board, it’s hard to keep going,” she said.

Getchell’s Lotus boutique and 16 other stores just started Fashion Night Out, for which the shops stay open until 9 p.m. each Thursday.

She said there have been so many shoppers at night that she is considering shifting her hours to open later in the morning and stay open later at night.

“I always get people at night,” she said.

Rankin, meanwhile, is still urging those considering keeping later hours to do it.

“They should not lose hope about staying open late,” she said, adding that if not for her late hours she would have had to close sooner. “I had consistent sales at night.”

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].

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