What started as a Cal Poly student’s passion project turned into nearly a half-century of successful business in downtown San Luis Obispo, but the era of Ann’s Contemporary Clothing is coming to an end.
“It’s been an amazing journey, but 47 years of doing this, it’s just time to retire,” business owner Ann Reeves said.
The store will close sometime in late September, but Reeves does not yet have a specific date. As of now, her landlord has not rented the space to anyone else, she said.
Reeves first business venture began when she was a junior at Cal Poly in 1971. She and a friend rented a space downtown to sell clothing and handmade jewelry. They called it The Hangup and used the store as their senior project, she said.
“I really did it for my senior project and I had no idea that it would take me this far for this long,” Reeves said.
She soon became the store’s sole owner, and in 1976 she upgraded locations and changed the name to Ann’s. That is when the store really took off, according to Reeves, who said it became known for its contemporary women’s clothing style.
Since then, she has moved locations twice within downtown. She initially doubled the size of her store in 1991 and then downsized to her current location at 1021 Morro St. nine years ago.
Over the past five decades, Reeves has seen the rise and fall of many businesses in the ever-changing downtown. When Reeves first opened shop, she said most stores downtown were small and locally owned, had no online competition and plenty of parking — but the retail scene is quite different now.
“I really hope for the future of downtown that first of all, people shop local and second, that they encourage unique local businesses and not big corporations,” Reeves said.
Despite bigger businesses moving into downtown, Reeves store remained a constant in SLO. She attributes her success to her loyal and loving customers and wonderful employees, she said.
“We’ve dressed many woman in the area for years,” she said. “Many people are sad that we are closing, it’s kind of an honor.”
Reeves said she will sincerely miss her customers and store, but her intuition was telling her it was time for retirement.
“When you own a business, you’re locked into it if you’re doing it right, but it is time for a new chapter. I want to travel more,” she said.