Originally created 02/17/99

Dress shop to close after 20 years

The racks lining the pale-peach walls of Burma's Dress Shop have become scarce since the owner slashed prices a month ago.

On Saturday, the store responsible for outfitting many Augusta women for more than 20 years closes its doors.

Ethel Story said the time has come to retire from the business she started as a side job and an investment. She retired from the former Continental Can in 1990.

"I've always liked clothes and always wanted to have something to do after I retired. It was a challenge to own your own business. At the time, there wasn't much else for a woman to do," Mrs. Story said.

The women's apparel store, in Daniel Village shopping center on Wrightsboro Road, opened in 1973 on Kissingbower Road and 10 years later moved to Central Avenue. It moved to its current location in 1993.

The shop's regular clientele includes Hill matrons and female professionals, mothers-of-the-brides and female golfers.

Mrs. Story said the shop offered classic, tailored clothing made to outlast passing fads.

For the closing, Mrs. Story brought back some of her most devoted employees, such as Ollie Proffitt, who worked at the shop for 11 years.

"It's sad but it's time," Mrs. Proffitt said.

As shoppers entered the store to browse through the sportswear, dresses and formalwear, the two women greeted familiar faces and talked to shoppers about the sale. Rather than hire a professional liquidator, Mrs. Story chose to reduce the prices on clothing 50 percent to 75 percent. She'll donate unsold clothing to the Girls Club of Augusta.

One devoted customer, Elizabeth Boyd, was heartbroken over the store's closing.

"What in the world is happening?" Mrs. Boyd said as she walked into the store Tuesday afternoon and gave Mrs. Proffitt a hug.

"What am I going to do? I was afraid this was going to happen. I've bought most of my clothes here," Mrs. Boyd said.

She said the personal service and easy access to the store were assets compared to larger stores and mall shopping.

Mrs. Story said she'll miss the friends she's made through the years.

As for her plans for the future, she will travel more.

"I'm 71, and it's time to play," she said jokingly.

Margaret Weston can be reached at (706) 823-3217 or mweston@augustachronicle.com.


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