Verena Maier has owned Verena’s Go Gourmet and Tea Shop in Arroyo Grande for 13 years, but at the end of May she’ll be closing its doors for good, citing poor sales and competition with online retailers.
“It’s been hard,” Maier said. “I’ve been there a long time, and I love being a part of the Arroyo Grande community, but I’ve been losing money every single month, every single year.”
Verena’s Go Gourmet sells mostly kitchen products, plus olive oils and spices.
Maier said the business, at 127 W. Branch St., has struggled since the recession in 2008, though she “powered through” for several years afterward in hopes that sales could rebound.
That wasn’t the case, however, and last year she said she spent more money buying inventory than she makes in sales. She estimated last year that she had about $100,000 in sales — 60 percent less than the year before. That, coupled with her own dwindling savings, which she was using to supplement some of the business’ expenses, prompted her to retire.
“You cannot stay open without making money,” she said. “That’s just how a business works.”
It’s going to be a weight off my shoulders. It’s a huge responsibility, owning a store.
Verena Maier, Verena’s Go Gourmet and Tea Shop
Maier cites a lagging retail market and harsh competition from online retailers like Amazon as one of the chief reasons she believes her business is struggling.
“People will come in and walk around and then they leave,” she said. “I’ve even heard — this is a very common comment — people who go, ‘Oh I’ll have to buy this on Amazon when I get home.’ It’s just the way it is. You can’t be mad at that.”
When she closes the doors May 31, Maier said she imagines it will be a bittersweet moment.
“I have a lot of great customers who have been very loyal for years,” she said. “But it’s going to be a weight off my shoulders. It’s a huge responsibility, owning a store.”
Until the store closes, Maier is offering a 20 to 40 percent sale on all items; she also encourages longtime customers to stop in and say goodbye.
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