Another independent business at the Shoppes of Bethesda is out, and its owner says opportunities for small, local businesses in Bethesda could be on the way out too.
Deborah Simon closed her Waygoose Redux gift shop at 4926 Hampden Lane on Saturday. Simon had recently taken in Shoppes of Bethesda neighbor Bella Italia after that shop closed.
It is the fourth locally owned, independent store to close in the shopping center in 2013. Ri Ra, an Irish pub and restaurant that relocated to Georgetown, also closed in 2013.
Waygoose Redux relocated from Rockville to Bethesda Row a decade ago. Three years ago, with national chains gulping up space on ritzy Bethesda Avenue, Simon again relocated the store just a few blocks away to Hampden Lane.
But with online retailers putting a big dent in her business and a landlord interested in pursuing more of those national chains, Simon said she had to hold one final blowout sale over the weekend.
“If you want to support small businesses like this, you need to support them and you need to stop relying on online shopping,” Simon said. “We just saw huge drops of people coming in. People who shopped with us last year didn’t come in this year and it’s been like that for a while. It’s the ease of the internet that’s killing small businesses in many ways.”
Waygoose was known for its jewelry, ceramics toys and other home decorations produced by a group of artists Simon said she gained much respect for over the years.
Her store was one of just a few remaining independent gifts shops in the area.
“If you want something that’s not clothing, that’s not food, that’s gone,” Simon said. “It used to be a nice shopping district, where you could go and see a lot of variety, find stuff you hadn’t even thought about.”
As for the future of small, local retailers in downtown Bethesda, Simon said that will require customers and some help from the landlords. A Pure Barre, a national chain of franchised fitness studios, will take over the spot of Bundles of Cookies (4930 Hampden Lane).
“Landlords are tending toward national chains because it’s easier in many respects,” Simon said. “And people are spending money, they’re just not spending it on these kinds of items. That’s really what it is. If you really do support small local businesses, then do it with your pocket books and your feet.”