BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — BEVERLY — Casa de Moda, the unique specialty store that has dressed up an often struggling downtown for more than four decades, is closing.
Janice Preston, who has owned and operated the store with her husband, Don, since 1969, said yesterday that the business will end its long run in late May or early June.
“It’s great, but it’s bittersweet, too,” she said. “There’s never a right time, but we’ve been doing it for 45 years. We’ve had a wonderful run.”
The Prestons sold one of the two buildings that housed Casa de Moda in December and downsized their store, moving into the other building over the last few months. Janice Preston said the sale of the second building is scheduled to close in June. When that happens, they plan to close the store entirely.
“That will be the end of Casa de Moda,” she said.
The new owner of the buildings, Frank Kaminski, said he plans to make extensive renovations before leasing out the space. He said there is enough space to accommodate up to six or seven stores.
He is considering moving part of his business, Kaminski Auctions, to the site to do appraisals of smaller items like jewelry and coins.
“We want to make the building look like a showpiece for downtown Beverly,” he said.
Gin Wallace, executive director of Beverly Main Streets, said the closing of Casa de Moda will be a “huge loss” for the downtown. The store, at the corner of Cabot and Pond streets, is exactly the kind of retail business the organization is trying to attract through its Downtown 2020 revitalization program, she said.
The loss of Casa de Moda will come on the heels of the closing of the Cabot Cinema Theatre on Cabot Street and Marino’s Cafe on Rantoul Street. Marino’s Cafe is planning to reopen in Beverly at another location.
“There are a lot of moving parts downtown right now,” Wallace said. “So, in a way, it’s a little scary, but we’re choosing to look at it as an opportunity.”
Main Streets recently launched a campaign to attract specialty retailers to Cabot and Rantoul streets by offering more than $10,000 in rent assistance. Wallace said they are looking to attract businesses such as specialty foods, home furnishings, clothing, music, art supplies, bookstores or artist cooperatives.
Wallace said those kinds of stores are more likely to bring foot traffic to the downtown, as opposed to “appointment” businesses such as hairdressers and dentists.
Casa de Moda has been a fixture in the downtown since the Prestons opened the store when they were in their early 20s. It sells an eclectic mix of jewelry, accessories, toys and games, home decor items, gifts, cards and stationery.
The Prestons are also active in many causes and nonprofits. Don Preston is president of Habitat for Humanity of the North Shore, and Janice Preston organizes trips to France for Beverly High School French class students.
Janice Preston said Casa de Moda has begun a closing sale. She said customers should use any gift certificates as soon as possible.
It will be difficult to tell customers about the closing, she said. But it will also open up opportunities for new businesses to come to downtown Beverly.
“It’s been a nice ride,” she said.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or email@example.com.