A WARRNAMBOOL women's clothing store that has evolved over decades will close and make way for a popular clothing label.
Retiring store owner Jan Francis will close Koroit Street's casual women's store Franca Clothing after 28 years in local retail.
But the doors won't stay closed for long when Ms Francis leases the site to one of her best-selling suppliers, Geelong-based clothing brand Elm Lifestyle, set to open soon.
"The new store will be a great addition to the CBD. All of our welded on Elm customers will be delighted," she said.
Ms Francis and husband Gary first managed a photography, picture framing and later homewares store that moved from Banyan Street, to Liebig Street and then to Koroit Street.
Then, about two decades ago, Ms Francis opened her first women's clothing store in Port Fairy, called Francis and Francis, which she sold to a local buyer last year.
"You wouldn't work in the area if you didn't love fashion but my thing has always been style over fashion," Ms Francis said.
Meanwhile, Ms Francis also opened the Koroit Street Franca, a play on the same family name.
She said while she had felt competition from online retail, Warrnambool offered opportunities for small retailers to survive.
"The age demographic I was operating in, those women like to touch and feel and try on garments. I've been lucky to trade in the age demographic where the online shopping isn't as big of a challenge as it is to other stores," Ms Francis said.
She said service also determined success, something she had prided herself in and found personally rewarding.
"It comes down to the service, and especially personal service, you can offer your clientele. You can override online," Ms Francis said.
"I have been in business for long enough to have the pleasure of seeing a second generation of families shopping with me. It's amazing the confidences customers share with you and the relationships you can establish with them.
"That is the thing I will miss the most."
Ms Francis said she would still occasionally be behind the counter with her husband at his picture framing business on Banyan Street.
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