MAIN STREET — Collectors, dreamers, brides-to-be and costume directors will have to search elsewhere for some of their most sought after dresses as longtime Santa Monica boutique Paris 1900 is closing.
Owner Susan Lieberman said the store will be liquidating its inventory in the coming weeks and while she is sad to see the store close, she will continue to be a presence in the community with her second business.
“It’s happening because I’d like to devote more time and energy to Jadis next door,” she said. “After more than 30 years of being in retail, it’s just the right time for me to lessen my responsibilities.”
She said no official closing date has been set.
“There’s no definite last day, it just depends on how the sale goes,” she said. “I’m hoping by the end of the summer but it may go more quickly as word gets out. I’ve only just started with the sign in the window and I have quite a lot of inventory.”
Lieberman originally came to Main Street with her late partner Parke Meek to open prop shop Jadis. She said Paris grew out of the products she found herself drawn to in the original store.
“I started carrying things that were Edwardian clothing, things that were suitable for bridal and then the place next door became available and I decided to separate the clothing from the antiques business.”
Lieberman is a native Angeleno but she spent her formative years in Geneva, Switzerland, and it was there that she developed an appreciation for fine linens and lace, as well as an understanding for the Old World.
“It was quite natural for me to create a store in the European vein and as a vintage ladies’ emporium.”
She said the store’s look reminded her of Paris and given the time frame of the clothing, the name became apparent. She said the name influenced the stores product mix as over time, people unfamiliar with the store would come by expecting to find French themed items.
“People also would come in because they love Paris so I began to carry Paris-decorative items. I was raised in the French part of Switzerland so it was very familiar to me and it was very easy for me to incorporate French decorative pieces and they were compatible with the clothing.”
Meek, who died in 2010, worked to rebuild the front of the store along side some friends and Lieberman said she takes pride in knowing her contributions to the community include the physical as well as the emotional.
“We built this beautiful store front, which was land marked by the city of Santa Monica in 2012,” she said. “I take comfort in knowing that the fa√ßade will remain no matter who takes over the space.”
While the closing is bittersweet, she retains a sense of humor and her closing sign jokes about her reputation with some locals regarding the store’s reputation as an appointment only business saying, “The store that’s ‘never open’ is closing.'”
“Over the last 10-12 years, I started opening three days a week and the rest would be by appointment or by chance because I was juggling both businesses,” she said. “People would think I was working bankers hours, but in fact I was working double shifts for a very, very long time,” she said.
She said the news has been met with sadness by her customers and friends.
“A lot of my joy has been to change the windows for the people waiting for the bus in front or people dreaming of if they got married, they’d buy their dress here,” she said. “There’s something really lovely about being in the business for so long and spanning generations. People have been sad about it. I think it’s safe to say it’s a beloved landmark.”
She said customers came to the store from all over the world and while she is sad to be closing, she has been uplifted by the responses.
“The announcement of the store’s closure has brought former bridal customers back to the store with their children, and prompted locals to stop in and express their appreciation for what I have created all these years. It has been very rewarding to know that ‘my life’s work’ has been so well received.”
While the emotional support has been appreciated, it’s still a difficult process for Lieberman.
“It’s very emotional when you’ve been doing something for such a long time, you sort of expect things will be there forever.”
While Paris 1900 is closing, she said Jadis will remain open and while it won’t carry the same unique clothing, it will have a few items to cater to the former Paris customer.
“There might be a hand full of items, decorative and jewelry,” she said. “I’ve been doing retail long enough to know it’s good to cover all the bases. It would be nice to have something for the ladies that may not be interested in Tesla Coils and gears. It’s the clothing that is very labor intensive and that is what I’m trying to back away from.”
Her post-closing plans also include more time for her hobbies.
“I’d like to travel, interested in historic preservation, get involved with that, do some charitable work. Just reinterpret the next phase, rather young when I started and at a point now where it’s perfect timing to be able to do different things.”