A western-style clothing store in Glen Burnie is closing after nearly six decades, with the store’s general manager and owner saying future family health expenses will likely make it too expensive to keep the store open in the long run. .
Bob Chance said Carol’s Western Wear will close Oct. 4. A large sale is planned for Sept. 14, with everything from the boots to the store’s buffalo head available for purchase.
The store, which opened in Chance’s father’s basement in 1962, has been a staple in northern Anne Arundel’s retail community for decades, offering a personalized experience in which employees help customers select boots and other clothing.
However, Chance said it isn’t the health care costs of his employees that’s causing the business to close.
Rather, it’s the health of his aging family member who Chance said will likely need long-term care that will cost his family too much money out of pocket to stay in operation.
Chance said that if the United States “had universal health care or any kind of functional health care system where your income doesn’t matter to your health care,” he’d be able to keep the store open a few more years.
Chance said he has lost business to online retailers, as Amazon sells many of the products he offers and manufacturers increasingly allow customers to buy products directly from their websites.
He said he was not willing to see the store change into one that was more “self-serve,” letting customers shop on their own without any assistance, saying that fitting boots is a personal experience.
Chance said he spoke with another employee who spends $6,000 a month to send his mother to a long-term health care facility, a cost his family member could not afford if he needed similar care.
Bob Chance of Carol's Western Wear discusses damage resulting from a portion of the building's roof blowing off in a storm on May 12, 2018.
So, for a business that has served as a local staple in an increasingly homogeneous retail industry, Chance said, "It’s not worth the work and effort to keep all my employees employed and the store paid for.”
“The future doesn’t look bright to me,” he added.
But he said he will look back on all the young people his store employed who went on to have successful careers outside of Carol’s.
“The thing we’re proudest of most is all the employees that we put through school and who now have degrees and professional jobs,” he said.