A story of recession: Kent’s American Charm to close its doors

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Sharon Shultz

Sharon Shultz

After nearly 14 years downtown, including more than eight at her current location on Meeker Street, Carol Schwindt says she has no choice but to close the doors permanently at American Charm, her Meeker Street gift shop. She’ll be closing her doors in mid-April.

“I just kept hoping things would get better and they didn’t,” Schwindt said Feb. 25.

Schwindt said sales have been slipping at the shop for several years, but said the drop-off this year due to the economic crisis was just “incredible” and more than her store could sustain.

American Charm first opened on First Avenue, but moved to Meeker Street eight years ago because of more foot traffic in that section of town.

“I moved over here because this was where all the business was supposed to be,” she said with a shrug.

Beginning about three years ago, however, Schwindt said she noticed a considerable drop-off in traffic, which greatly affected her business.

“We have no walk-in traffic,” she said. “We used to have a lot of walk-in traffic.”

Schwindt said the current mix of stores downtown was not right for her business, a mix of gifts, candies, greeting cards and other items.

But more than anything, it was the recession that forced her to think about closing up, Schwindt said.

Calling it the “prettiest shop in town,” customer Dolores Smith said she was sorry to hear that American Charm soon would be closing down.

“I just love coming in here,” she said. “Even if I don’t buy anything, I still like coming in here.”

Smith said she stopped in often and would continue to do so until the doors were locked for good.

“I’ll be back,” she said as she exited.

Schwindt said she plans to run a sale until mid-April, hoping to sell as much merchandise as possible.

American Charm is located at 317 W. Meeker St. in Kent. For more information, call 253-850-7350.


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