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Panach to Close in July, But Not on a Down Note

NEW YORK -- Panache, a New Jersey designer store that catered to the suburban set for over 60 years, will close in July.<BR><BR>According to its owner, Joseph Shapiro, it is not another case of hard times hurting a high-end retailer. In the last few...

NEW YORK — Panache, a New Jersey designer store that catered to the suburban set for over 60 years, will close in July.

According to its owner, Joseph Shapiro, it is not another case of hard times hurting a high-end retailer. In the last few years, there has been a string of bankruptcies by designer stores, including Martha Inc. and Nan Duskin, or outright closings, such as Amen Wardy and Sara Fredericks.

But Shapiro said Panache will go out on a good note. It was a personal decision, not a financial one, said the 73-year-old Shapiro, explaining that after working at the store since he was 25, it was time to call it quits. His brother, Ira, who had helped run the 2,500-square-foot store, died three years ago.

The business was started by Shapiro’s father, Martin, in Perth Amboy, N.J., in 1931, and operated under his name. It moved to 239 Millburn Ave., Millburn, N.J., in 1967 when the name was changed to Panache. “In the good years, we did almost as much as $4 million in volume,” Shapiro said. “It’s dropped to under $3 million, but that’s not the reason the store is closing.” The store’s strength has been in European designer sportswear and offering service.

He said his debts will be covered, and that a sale, conducted by Vicki Ross, the fashion consultant and Panache’s buyer, will be held April 5 at 525 Seventh Ave.

A total of 14 people, in sales and alterations staff, and a bookkeeper, will be let go.