Tisbury Main Street anchor, Bramhall & Dunn, to close
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Emily Bramhall, owner of Bramhall & Dunn on Main Street, Vineyard Haven, will close her shop after 28 years in business. The door will shut within the next several weeks or as soon as bare shelves and lack of inventory extinguish the store's distinctive style.
The decision is not linked to the economy, politics, rent, changing styles, employee woes, foreign competition, the web, or any of the many factors affecting Main Streets across the country. It is quite simple, Ms. Bramhall said in a telephone conversation with a reporter on Tuesday.
"There is nothing negative about it," she said. "Basically and truthfully, I'm just done."
The single mother of a daughter, Ty, 24 and son, Ben, 22, Ms. Bramhall, 53, said it had taken her some time to arrive at this decision, but now she is looking forward to the next chapter in her life.
Bramhall & Dunn specializes in distinguished women's clothing and accessories, as well as home decorations and furnishings that have a Vineyard feel. Paintings by Ms. Bramhall's father, noted artist Kib Bramhall, hang on the walls, also for sale.
Ms. Bramhall said her employees were not interested in taking over the business and she looked with little enthusiasm into selling it. "It just really wasn't for me," she said. "It just didn't feel right."
What Ms. Bramhall says she'll miss are the people, her customers and friends.
"I have done it — for 28 years — and it was really fun, and really rewarding. I've met so many great people through all different parts — artists and vendors and reps and customers, and a lot of them have become my friends."
Ms. Bramhall, a Chilmark resident active in community affairs, spoke about the fun but also the challenges of retail.
"I have a beautiful boat, I sail it once a year," she said.
Ms. Bramhall is mindful of the gap her business will leave in a town where political and business leaders are often challenged in their efforts to maintain and enhance the year-round vitality of Main Street.
Ms. Bramhall rents the building which is owned by Earle "Sandy" Ray.
"This is my decision, but on the other hand I do recognize that my store has been important to a lot of people," Ms. Bramhall said.
Monday, she sent separate versions of a letter to customers and her fellow Main Street business owners announcing the impending closure.
"I've worked with the most steadfast, loyal, and delightful colleagues, some for many years, including Wendy [Whipple] for 23," Ms. Bramhall wrote to her fellow members of the business community.
Addressing the questions she was sure would be asked, Ms. Bramhall wrote, "Some may ask if the difficult economy factored into my decision, and I can honestly say that it did not. In fact, when times started getting tough in 2008, I saw it as a challenge, and we successfully adapted to meet it.
"Others may wonder if the huge growth in Internet shopping was a factor. Again, it was not. We are proud of the personal attention and lovely environment that we provide our customers and know that they appreciated it as well. This kind of service cannot be duplicated on the Internet."
To her customers, she wrote, "More than anything, it's been the personal relationships that we all have shared with all of you that have been so rewarding. We all are honored to have been a part of people's lives for many generations.
"None of this would have been possible without you, my incredibly supportive and loyal customers. You have made it fun, rewarding, gratifying. You have become my friends, the store's raison d'être. Your support has meant so much to me.
"Those of you who make B&D your first stop when you get off the ferry and the last before you board can't imagine how gratifying that feels. We had customers last weekend, who after driving up from Brooklyn, came to the Vineyard Haven store off the boat, then on to the Edgartown store before heading home to Aquinnah — and all before their poor dog had been let out for a walk."
Ms. Bramhall will host a party in the store on Friday to kick off a sale that will continue until the door closes.
"It's going to be a celebration, because that's really how I see it," she said.