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Lena's of Hagerstown closing after more than 50 years in Washington Co.

August 05, 2013|By KAUSTUV BASU | kaustuv.basu@herald-mail.com
  • Shoppers take advantage of discounts at Lena's of Hagerstown on Monday. The store is closing it's doors next month after more than 50 years of business.
Joe Crocetta / Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Lena’s of Hagerstown, a clothing boutique that has catered to women for more than five decades in Washington County, is going out of business, leaving behind customers whose families have shopped there for generations.

Lori Ruda, manager and an investor at the store, said the business at 1303 Pennsylvania Ave. in Hagerstown will close by the end of September.

“The economic situation in Hagerstown and Washington County is, I mean I know others may say other things, but to me it is pretty devastated,” she said, adding that there is no new industry or jobs.

Ruda said the declining economic conditions made it impossible to keep the business going.

“You can’t pay overhead and all the expenses and things that are necessary to stay in business,” she said.

Lena’s of Hagerstown has been in business since the mid- or late 1950s, Ruda said.

The upscale store, known then as Lena Darner Boutique, was located for more than 50 years at 59 N. Potomac St. in downtown Hagerstown.

According to Herald-Mail archives, the store had been a “downtown Hagerstown fixture” since 1955, when Lena Darner started the business as a bridal shop.

The store changed hands several times, and shifted from selling bridal wear to women’s clothing and accessories.

Lena’s moved to its current location in October 2011.

At the time, Ruda said moving to another location was a matter of survival, according to a published report at the time.

Even though many customers approved of the move, there just wasn’t enough business, she said.

“It is one of things where I knew we weren’t going to be able to survive. I knew it was coming, but it’s difficult,”  said Ruda, who has been associated with the business for about 15 years. “People are holding on to their money.”

The iconic store has about 2,000 square feet of selling space, and most items in the store are discounted 30 percent to 50 percent.

Lena’s features brands such as Frank Lyman, Pendleton and Taylor Brooke.

“There are situations where the grandmother bought her bridal dress here and maybe the mother bought hers and then when Lena’s decided not to do bridal anymore, we are now getting grandmother and that mother back for mother of the bride and mother of the groom,” she said.

Ruda said she has been working alone at the store since the beginning of the year, but more temporary workers have been hired for the ongoing sale.

“People counted on us to be here to have something for them for the formal occasions,” Ruda said. “I apologize to the community that we can no longer be established in Hagerstown.”

Mary Lou Shoop of Hagerstown, who was shopping at the store Monday, said news of the impending closure saddened her.

“It was a staple here,” Shoop said. “It was here for so long. Whenever you needed a gift for somebody, the first thing that came to your mind was to come here. It is breaking my heart, it really is.”

Kathy McKinley of Boonsboro said she came to the store whenever she needed a dress for a special occasion.

“I don’t know where I will go when I need something different,” McKinley said. “They just had different styles of dresses and clothes than anyone else in town. You could find something that everyone else wasn’t wearing.”

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