For more than 40 years, downtown Sumter was home to a men's and boys' clothing store, but last week, the store announced it is closing as the owner looks to retire.
"I am now 72, and I have early retirement," said George Ramchandani, owner of New …
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"I am now 72, and I have early retirement," said George Ramchandani, owner of New York Hi-Style.
The North Main Street store had been doing business in downtown since 1977, but the time has come to lock the doors for good after business in the area has changed since the late '70s, Ramchandani said.
Chris Hardy, president and CEO of the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce, said the changes he has seen over the years in Downtown Sumter is that the area is leaning more toward a nightlife-focused area.
"We're bringing in more of a nightlife type of feel," Hardy said. "Some businesses stay open past 5 p.m., and that's what a lot of your downtowns that are thriving are doing."
While before, downtowns were focused on retail stores that closed at 5 p.m., the trend now is to have more restaurants, bars and other entertainment in downtown areas, Hardy said.
"Downtown is becoming what I think it needs to be in order to be a thriving downtown," Hardy said. "If you look at any downtown, you have a really good mix of your retail that brings people there during the day, but then after that, you have another mix of your restaurants and your nightlife."
Though the new businesses and renovations have brought more foot traffic to downtown Sumter, Ramchandani said it was the time to retire regardless, especially with COVID-19.
"Since the last two or three months, because of COVID-19, the business is really, really slow now," Ramchandani said.
The pandemic didn't play a part in the store closing, he said. Ramchandani decided last year that he was going to retire and "take it easy" from here on out.
While New York Hi-Style will close, Ramchandani said their clientele can continue shopping at his wife's store, Fifth Avenue Styles, three doors down at 5 North Main St. She also sells men's and boys' clothing.
"Keeping one location will be good for everybody," he said.
Ramchandani's wife, Monica, 65, who has been running Fifth Avenue Styles since 2005, isn't looking to retire yet.
"For our age, we want to take it easy and only keep one store," she said. "I have so many customers, and we treat customers like a family."
Ramchandani said select items at New York Hi-Style are currently 60-80% off for a closeout sale.
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