After 35 years in business, Taft Cosmetics — a locally-owned convenience store at 2 Whitney Ave — will close its doors at the end of October.
The store, which sells snack foods, drugstore items and greeting cards, posted a sign on its door last week announcing a retirement sale. Store owner Shalom Lemel said he told his landlord, University Properties, months ago that he would retire and would not renew the store’s lease at the end of this month. Students in nearby Timothy Dwight College expressed disappointment over the store’s closing.
“Yale is trying very, very hard to find a replacement,” Lemel said.
Lemel said he heard from University Properties that the organization is seeking a replacement for Taft Cosmetics that sells similar products. Though Karen Peart, Yale’s deputy press secretary, said she understood that the owners were retiring, she did not comment on the store’s replacement.
Sarah Xiao ’17 said the store was particularly convenient because of its location and diverse products. Similarly, Emmy Reinwald ’17 said she visited Taft Cosmetics twice a week for toiletries such as nail polish and shampoo, adding that the store is by far the closest convenience store on campus for students in TD. Though she no longer lives in the residential college, she continues to visit the store, Reinwald said.
“Almost everyone I talked to in TD definitely goes to Taft,” Reinwald said. “I’ve known people who go there [for] a last minute Mothers’ Day card to send their mom. I’ve also known people who’ve gone in there and bought a bandana for a theme party.”
Several patrons in the store Monday afternoon also expressed disappointment that the store would be closing.
Lemel said he hopes University Properties will find a tenant who markets similar items. But maintaining a convenience store like Taft Cosmetics has not been without its challenges, Lemel said, noting that the profit margins are small and the store must also carry a wide variety of inventory at once.
Lemel added that he is optimistic about the surrounding neighborhood’s economic growth. Though high rises have been built and more businesses have opened shop around Whitney Ave., the surrounding neighborhood is still home to an impressive assortment of successful mom and pop shops, Lemel said. The store is on the same block as locally-owned restaurants Choupette Crêperie and Café and Katalina’s Bakery.
“The problem today probably in the big cities is there is no more mom and pop stores, that personal touch,” Lemel said. “But this area still has mom and pop shops, local individuals who own the business, which is good for the area.”
Yale has also played a role in the area’s economic development. University Properties bought the building housing Taft Cosmetics a few years ago and continued the store’s lease, Lemel said.
Whitney Grove Square, the building housing Taft Cosmetics, is also the site of several Yale administrative offices.
Clarification, Tuesday, Oct. 6: A previous version of this article stated that University Properties could not be reached for comment. In fact, University Properties did not comment on the store’s replacement before the end of the business day.