ATLANTA — Bonnie White, who launched her namesake boutique here more than 30 years ago, has closed the store because of economic pressures.
This story first appeared in the March 20, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The 3,500-square-foot unit in the affluent Buckhead district is the latest in a succession of iconic independent retailers, including Linda Dresner in Manhattan, Tracey Ross in Los Angeles and Georgina in Long Island, N.Y., to succumb to the recession.
White said financial losses in 2008 and a grim outlook for this year forced her decision. She had been marking down merchandise for months before the closing on Feb. 28, and said all leftover goods are in storage.
“I don’t think you can just dismiss 30 years of business,” she said of the closing. “It was a tremendous ride and I will deeply miss my customers.”
White said she sent letters to all vendors to whom she owes money, advising them when she will be able to pay. She did not previously notify them of the shutdown.
“Why should I have to? It’s my store,” she said.
One vendor, Janice Fetter, founder of Spooney, a modern activewear line based in Charleston, S.C., who had sold to White for two years, said, “This is an absolute shock to me. Bonnie has $8,800 worth of our merchandise in her store that we haven’t been paid for.”
Fetter said her accounting department staffers had called for months to secure payment and White had been putting them off. “Bonnie herself hasn’t come to the phone in six months,” she said.
White carried lines such as Elliot Lauren, AZI Jeans, Cici Bianca, SNA Jewelry and Credibility.
The Bonnie White boutique opened in 1978 at Park Place shopping center and had stores at the Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza malls before settling into the freestanding unit in Buckhead.
White said she plans to focus on her role as president of the Retail Registry, an online search tool launched in October 2008 that allows buyers to search for new resources and view collections, and restart the Bonnie White web store for fall 2009.