Whyte Avenue shop owner to close her ‘baby’ after 32 years

WATCH ABOVE: Two long-time tenants of Edmonton's Whyte Avenue will be moving out by the end of the year. Their combined commitment to the strip is nearly 90 years. Kendra Slugoski reports.

After three decades in business, a mainstay on Whyte Avenue is closing its doors — for good.

Jane Harrick, owner of The Avenue Clothing Co. at 10344 – 82 Ave., made the announcement to staff and customers this week.

“It’s been a roller-coaster week,” Harrick said from inside her shop. “It will be 32 years by the time I close.”

“Totally my baby.”

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Harrick said a number of factors pushed her to retirement. Aside from wanting to spend more time with her grandchildren, Harrick said the economy was one reason and she didn’t have the option to renew her lease.

Harrick said she had been negotiating with her landlord for a year and a half but could not come to an agreement.

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“My heart was just not in it to relocate.”

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Another independent down the street, Lillo’s Music at 10848 – 82 Ave., is also shutting its doors. Lillo’s has been a staple on Whyte — in business for 56 years.

Doreen Lillo said her husband’s health was the push behind the couple’s decision.

Matthew Chapman, president of the Old Strathcona Business Association, said losing long-time businesses will shift the feel of Whyte Ave.

“We’re just undergoing a major change,” said Chapman, “and I’m not sure how it’s all going to evolve.”

Chapman points to the ongoing construction of condos and new buildings that have been developed.

“The last three years we’ve seen massive changes compared to maybe the previous 15 years.”

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READ MORE: Construction in Old Strathcona coincides with busy festival season 

Chapman said he worries about losing independent business as a whole, but added new shops are moving into the area and trying to make a go of it.

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“There are opportunities for independent business but it may not be between 103rd and 105th on 82 Avenue,” said Chapman. “It may be on 81 Avenue.”

Chapman said he will also miss the experience and commitment the owners of the staple shops provided — but is happy for those taking on retirement.

The Avenue Clothing Co. does not have an official closing date but the lease expires at the end of November.

Harrick said she will continue to hang out on Whyte Ave in her retirement.

“Whyte Ave will always be a vibrant street. I’m sure of that.”

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