And crafts are so much more sophisticated now, she said." I used to put up artists at my house. Now they stay at the best hotels."

The Rotunda store looked good to the Grinblats in 1998. "When we heard Ginny wanted to retire, we looked at it, liked it and bought it. The numbers made sense," he said. 

Grinblat said that five years after the couple bought it, they expanded and remodeled, showing mostly American-made crafts. "The store was a success," Grinblat said.

Edenwald resident Betty Walter recalls the store. "It was marvelous," she said. "It could be very expensive, but what you got was classy, very dramatic but always tasteful."

But the Rotunda mall changed hands twice after that, first to a California company that didn't specialize in retail, and in the 2000s to Hekemian & Co., whose schedule for a mixed-use redevelopment of the mall has yet to reach the construction stage.

Eight years ago, as their Rotunda business continued to decline,  the Grinblats set up shop in Hunt Valley, lured by the customers a new Wegman's at that mall would bring, and by the prospect of a location that would feature a number of other specialty boutique stores. 

"That's the kind of clientele we needed," Grinblat said. "But it turned out to be nearly all chain stores instead."

"We tried very hard to stay in business," said Grinblat, who said he and his wife closed the Rotunda store two years ago. "But we have been losing money for many years and we can't do it anymore. We can't afford to renew the lease."

The irony is that since they put the closing sign up on July 5, they've been very, very busy, he said. "Business had increased 10-fold," Grinblat said.

A volatile economy has always been tougher on small businesses, said Keith Scott, president of the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce, "particularly for those relying on discretionary income. 

"Big corporations can withstand hits and borrow money. Smaller businesses often have to close down," Scott said. 

Grinblat is not glib about it, but he said he can find some consolation in the closing. 

"I came to this country from Argentina in 1978," he said. "This will be the first Christmas season that I don't have to work."