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See U Saturday Closing Amid Shifting Retail Climate

The clothing store owned by Frank Arone and operated by Angela Festa is going out of business after more than three decades of operation in various iterations.

See U Saturday is closing its doors a year after its long-time proprietors rebranded the clothing retailer for a changing customer base.

Compounding pressures including big name competition, a rapid shift in the way customers use their purchasing power, and family health issues have forced the store to plan to liquidate its assets and leave the Boulder Run shopping center before the end of the year, according to Store Manager Angela Festa.

"My dad started this business 33 years ago selling brand-name merchandise at a fair price," she said, but the climate for small business owners is drastically different in 2012, where deep discounts are offered online and at nearby malls.

"We have great customers, but there just weren't enough of them," Festa said. "We sell brand-name merchandise, and we just can't afford to be 40 percent off all the time."

Those problems were indicative of growing anxieties for small businesses everywhere, Festa said, suggesting that the trouble for small, locally owned retailers was competing with the seemingly monolithic buying power of national chains.

Before the ubiquity of online sales, local businesses had offered convenience for shoppers willing to pay a premium to avoid a trek to the mall, but with a momentous surge in online sales and deep discounts offered by larger companies, the retail climate is changing.

For shoppers, "what's more convenient than sitting on your couch?" Festa asked.

The store, formerly known as Kids Stuff, liquidated its inventory in November 2011, phasing out clothing for infant-, toddler- and preschool-aged children in favor of what Festa called the "tween, teen and young adult" demographic.

It closed for a time to remodel and restock, and reopened in March with hopes that by refocusing its target audience, the retailer could reach a consumer base that spends more freely on premium status brands such as Under Armor, North Face and Nike.

But the changing business environment that guides retail sales proved to be insurmountable for See U Saturday.

Festa's father — and the long-time owner of the store — Frank Arone, is also currently battling cancer. The Wyckoff family is looking to concentrate on these matters tather than invest their energies in an uphill battle over customers.

Festa did not want to comment on the status of the store's lease with Hekemian, the company that owns the Boulder Run shopping center.

Liquidating their merchandise is priority No. 1 for the store, Festa said. She hopes to be out of the Franklin Avenue storefront by the end of the year.

The liquidation sale will begin on Tuesday, when the store will be open from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. 

For Festa, who said she's been working for her father's store all her life, the next step in her career is unclear.

"[My parents] raised us with such an entrepreneurial spirit, we don't know any other way." Festa said. "Hopefully, when one door closes another one opens." 

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Joseph M. Gerace at Joseph.Gerace@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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