First Impressions, the Lafayette Hill boutique that fashionistas flocked to for L.A.-based contemporary labels like Michael Stars and Seven for All Mankind is closing its glass doors in March.
Pam Katz, the eternally tan and always in the know owner, points to a shift in the shopping habits of her customers' - the well-to-do stay-at-home mom, the white collar mover and shaker and their teenage daughters.
Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, First Impressions was bursting at the seams with Juicy Couture, Francois Gibraud, Z. Cavaricci. Women treated shopping like sport.
Today women purchase a mixture of high end labels and quick fast fashion online to wear during the work day. And on weekends packed with errands and Flywheel classes they live in Athleta. When not not sipping specialty coffee or sitting at wine bars, they are at home binging on television. (The Affair, anyone?)
This a la carte lifestyle doesn't leave much money, let alone time for boutique browsing.
"There was a time when we used to run out and get People so we could see what celebrities were wearing," said Katz, who plans to keep the family's children's store, Down 2 Earth Kids, open and play with her grandchildren during her free time.
"Values have changed. Now they are happy with the same pair of jeans and 40 T-shirts," Katz said.
Katz isn't the only starlet-inspired specialty boutique that has said goodbye recently. Kitson - a favorite of Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan and yes, Kim Kardashian - announced in December it was closing all of its stores out West. And Fred Segal another oh-so-cool California store with multiple locations, is down to just two. They are struggling to find the right mix of contemporary labels in its store.
"It's just really the end of an era," said Katz as she prepared for her blow-out sale starting today. "But when it was good, it was good."
Katz was born into the clothing business. Her dad, Irving Weinstein, owned a business that manufactured clothing in Montreal and New York city.
During the 1980s, Katz styled and sold boxy jackets and matching skirt suits for women, who were then just entering the work force. She held luncheon fashion shows at local restaurants, like Houlihan's.
Business got so good in the early 1990s she opened a warehouse on Germantown Pike and by 1996, she bought a building and began selling of-the-era working girl label CP Shades.
In the late 1990s, she opened Down 2 Earth, an eco-friendly home and design store in Manayunk (it closed in the early 2000s). Two years later she opened the off-shoot, Down 2 Earth Kids, also in Manayunk. Down 2 Earth Kids moved to Lafayette Hill in the mid-2000s.
When I came to Philly back in 2002, Katz was smack dab in the middle of First Impressions' Britney Spears-inspired heyday.
Here is where I tried on my first pair of Current Elliott Jeans and luxuriated in the soft goodness of a Three Dots T-shirt.
It was Katz who introduced me to the brand Peace, Love, World and told me that yoga-inspired messages were going to show up on ready-to-wear clothes at any minute.
She was right.
Katz plans on expanding her juniors offerings - that she describes as lower-priced contemporary brands, like Michael Stars and Lauren Moshi - at Down 2 Earth Kids. After all, Katz says women from 16 to 60 are going super high end, or super low end. There is no more in between.
It only makes sense to close.
"We were like Cheers," Katz said. "We knew everybody's name. It's the end of an era."