The windows at a Pigtown boutique owned by Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh were covered with brown paper shopping bags over the weekend, and the city’s comptroller said that the shop had closed permanently.
Baltimore Comptroller Joan M. Pratt, who owns a share in the boutique, said Monday the shop had closed in December 2018 and that no sales had been made in 2019. That contrasts with what Pratt said earlier this month — that the store was open by appointment only.
The shop, which specialized in high-end secondhand clothing, was selling promotional gift certificates through Groupon and Living Social as recently as April 3. The promotion was pulled from both sites after inquiries from The Baltimore Sun.
James Bentley, a spokesman for Pugh, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the status of the boutique.
Along with Pugh and Pratt, the shop is also co-owned by Afra Vance-White, the city’s director of external relations, who was placed on paid leave earlier this month along with two other mayoral aides. No explanation was then given for what acting mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young characterized as a personnel decision. Vance-White could not be reached for comment Monday.
The boutique opened in late 2013. According to Frieda Ulman, who serves as the marketing and special events manager for the nonprofit Pigtown Main Street, two doors down from the boutique, the shop kept more regular hours of operation in prior years, opening both to the public and to customers who made appointments. However, she noted the store’s hours have dwindled recently.
Earlier this month, landlord Marc Smith confirmed that the rent was being paid.
Pugh remains on paid leave from her job as mayor while she recovers from pneumonia. Through a spokesman, she has asserted her intention to return to office once she is well, despite calls for her resignation from Baltimore’s city council and business community. She faces criticism over revelations that she received around $800,000 from various institutions for a series of children’s books she authored.