Popular women’s fashion store closing

Published 5:00 am Thursday, October 22, 2009

Brookhaven fashion store Betty Ann’s is closing its doors after30 years of business in the city.

Storeowner Cathy McDonnieal said a going-out-of-business salebegan Thursday morning in anticipation of the store closing by theend of October. The building has been sold to a new owner, shesaid.

“Betty Ann’s will be gone,” McDonnieal said. “We’ve been therefor 30 years and it’s time to turn the page and move on. It’s beena great 30 years, but we’re just worn out.”

Store founder Catherine Batson said the closing of Betty Ann’sends a “happy story.” She opened the store in downtown Brookhavenin 1978 as a side project and saw it grow into a successfulbusiness.

“I had a full-time job working for the Mississippi StateExtension Service, and I thought, ‘Well, why not?'” said Batson,who’s still involved store activities. “It wasn’t but about a yearthat we went to market, came back, and our eyes were bigger thanthe store.”

Batson moved the store out near the movie theater at theintersection of Brookway Boulevard and Monticello Street, but thatsite would prove too confining as well. In 1986, she purchased thelot on the boulevard where the store remains today.

Betty Ann’s had been surviving the economic recession, Batsonsaid, and the decision to close the store was personal – notfinancial.

“It’s time for this young lady to rest a little bit,” she said.”She’s approaching a few days from 80, and I plan to have at least20 more restful, peaceful years. When I was a young girl, I reallywanted to be a designer, but I’d have to go to New York. This wasthe closest thing to my dream. But all good things come toend.”

Before Betty Ann’s comes to end, the store will be offloadingits inventory at reduced prices. McDonnieal said everything in thestore is 75 percent off, except for the “upstairs stuff” – pageant,prom and wedding apparel – which will be 50 percent off.

Charlie Lee Smith, part owner of local real estate investmentcompany Home Options, said his company purchased the Betty Ann’sbuilding and is talking to a group of potential businessmen whowill likely open another women’s apparel shop in its place. He saidlight renovations would be done to the building before it is leasedback to a local proprietor.

“It’s a good location and that name’s been out there for yearsand years,” said Smith, adding that he hopes the new business willbe as successful in its activities.

Smith’s Home Options also recently purchased Millane’s after 40years of business. Finishing Touch now operates from thatlocation.

Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Program DirectorKay Burton said Betty Ann’s has been an important member of thecity’s retail community and an active chamber member. The loss ofthe store will be a loss for Brookhaven, she said, because of theoutlet’s stellar name recognition.

“A lot of people from outside Brookhaven recognize the store asone of the premiere women’s apparel stores in the state,” Burtonsaid. “Betty Ann’s name was synonymous with fine Brookhavenshopping.”