DALLAS — Avant, after a 28-year run as one of the leading contemporary stores in Dallas, will close in December.

Owner Donna Chalker said her lease is up and the store’s location on lower Greenville Avenue is to be bulldozed to make way for a bank. Although Avant did almost $1 million in sales for the fiscal year ended in June, an 8 percent increase compared with the previous year, Chalker said competition in the contemporary sector is fierce.

“It’s an incredible explosion of stores and everybody wants the same look and same labels,” Chalker said. “You have your ups and downs in retail, but even if he wasn’t bulldozing my building, my lease was up and I would have wanted to take a break anyway.”

She added, “I’ve been doing this for 28 years, and I need to take a good vacation. I might open another store in two years.”

Chalker said she may consider Firewheel Town Center, a large mixed-use lifestyle plaza opening this month in Garland, Tex., a few miles from her home in Sachse. She’s also weighing options for a building she bought last month in Dallas’ Design District, including creating a wholesale showroom with an immediately available inventory of “cool clothing” and a photography studio for her husband, Steve.

Avant, located in a nondescript pink building with iron bars on the windows, built a reputation for sexy sportswear and fashion-forward evening dresses. Chalker takes credit for introducing several key designers to the city, including Betsey Johnson, Leon Max, Vivienne Tam under her former East Wind Code label and Sue Wong under the Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit label.

More than a dozen independent retailers focusing on contemporary clothing opened in the last four years within a few miles of Avant, including Octane, Premium 93, Off the Shoulder, Krimson & Klover, Source Paris, Cretia’s on McKinney, Movida and Angie Amadi.

This story first appeared in the October 4, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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