After 10 years in business, Uptown Jean Co. has closed the doors on its first — and last remaining — location, in downtown San Luis Obispo.
At one time, there were six Uptown Jean Co. stores throughout Central and Northern California. Over the years, those other locations closed, but the flagship store at 699 Higuera St. continued to thrive. That is, until about two years ago.
“Uptown was a very successful store,” owner Helio Fialho said. “Over the last two years, foot traffic has deteriorated and the landscape of downtown has changed dramatically. The downtown has become too food- and bar-driven, and when you have imbalance like that, retail fails every single time.”
Fialho said the lease was coming up for renewal at the end of the year.
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“It just didn’t make sense to stay open,” he said.
In July, Fialho informed his staff of six that he would not be extending the lease. Instead he decided to focus his attention on the two other companies he owns — Auspient, a technology services company, and LeftLane Sports, an e-commerce members-only flash sale site, both based in San Luis Obispo.
Some former Uptown employees have been hired at those companies.
“Downtown just doesn’t make sense for retail anymore,” Fialho said. “Food is good; it’s important to the mix that makes a vibrant downtown. But when too many restaurants move in, there’s too much food, and they end up cannibalizing themselves.”
As of now, the retail space on the corner of Higuera and Broad streets that used to house Uptown Jean Co. is empty. Building owner Tom McLaughlin could not be reached to comment on whether a new tenant has been lined up.