Economy Hits Retailers Hard, Some Closing

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Corral West Ranchwear, going... Quilter’s Outpost, going... Git a Rope! Trading Company, soon to be gone.

The closure of these commercial properties in recent weeks in Rim Country constitutes part of a growing number of businesses going belly-up nationwide.

Prudential Arizona Properties associate broker and branch manager Cliff Potts said the town is littered with vacant properties. Six months ago, Potts reported 175,000 feet of vacant space, which converts to enough space for about 115 Subways.

“There was a lot vacant space out there,” Potts said, “and there has been very little absorption and a lot more going out of business.”

Late last week, workers at Corral West found out they would soon be out of jobs. Assistant Manager Jamie Bowman, who has been with the company for 10 years, said she had no idea the store would be closing.

“It was a surprise. We thought for sure we would be bought up and stay open,” Bowman said. The store, which sells western, work wear and boots, has been open in Payson for more than 25 years, but will close in less than eight weeks.

Bowman said sales have remained steady at the store, despite the hit in the economy, but the rest of the company has not fared as well.

Corral West recently put 91 nationwide stores up for auction and Boot Barn bought up 21, but 50 will have to close down, Bowman said.

Bowman said she felt strongly that Payson should stay open because of its steady sales and loyal customer base.

Git a Rope! Trading Company, 605 S. Beeline Highway, decided to close its doors a month ago due to the worsening economy.

Co-owner Jayne Peace Pyle said the store has seen slipping sales for more than a year.

“Sales were excellent the first year, less the second and even less this last year,” Pyle said.

“Last year, Jinx (Pyle) said we were in recession just by looking at what was going on in town then, and I agree with him.”

Pyle said the decision to close was purely financially driven.

“We said we can either sit here and hope things get better or close up and see what happens,” she said. “We are putting a lot in storage and maybe one day we will open another store.”

The couple owns a book publishing company and plans to keep it running. “I have 10 books waiting to go out, so I need Jinx here,” Pyle said.

Another familiar storefront that is closing along the Beeline Highway, Quilter’s Outpost, has threatened to close for the last several years.

Manager Kathy Hunt said the owner put the shop up for sale years ago, but never received any bids.

With the sagging economy and the owner’s personal issues, Hunt said the decision was made to close for good.

“I hope someone will come along and open something new,” Hunt said of the space.

“Customers are sad we’re closing, but people are definitely being more careful on what they spend.”

Potts said he hopes to see an improvement by the first quarter of 2009.

“Many people are saying not until 2010, or until there is enough consumer confidence to open new business,” Potts said.

“But it is very hard to predict consumer confidence.”

Potts lamented that Payson has never had a strong commercial sector, with businesses coming and going year in and year out.

Pyle said she saw Main Street businesses growing in 2007, but most have since closed down.

“If the town really wants to see a historic Main Street, they have got to work on it and promote it or it’s gone,” Pyle said.

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