MARYSTOWN, N.L. — When store manager Gail Smith locks up the Jeans Experts location in Marystown for the last time this month, she will be closing the door on what has been a large part of her life.
“It’s going to affect me because I do love my job, it’s a part of my life — it’s been a part of my life for the last 25 years,” Smith told The Southern Gazette.
Smith was in her 20’s when she was hired to work at the Marystown location, and now more than two decades later she is getting ready to say goodbye to her co-workers and customers.
“This was my job that I went into and I really enjoyed it, I loved the interaction with the people, she said. “I’ve been here a long time and you’re committed to your job, committed to your customers and you give the best customer service that you can give.”
Smith feels that the declining company has played a role in the closure of the store, but also notes that shopping habits have changed.
“It seems like one time even when the economy was a little bit on the lower end, people still had money to shop in the stores,” she said. “But now with the online shopping even that’s gone. In saying that, work is very scarce in Marystown. The money’s just not there.”
She added with the decline in people shopping at brick and mortar locations, it makes it harder for smaller companies to keep up with the costs such as employee wages, benefits and so on.
“I don’t know when it’s going to sink in to people that it (online shopping) is killing these type of stores, but eventually you’re going to see it right across,” she said. “It’s going to be all online shopping, give it five-10 years.”
Smith said this wasn’t always the case, remembering what it was like in the past during the holiday season.
“From the first of October until Christmas and we would have layaways from wall to wall,” she explained. “Then we had back to school — so you had at least five really excellent months that could carry your store through the bad times.”
Six people will be unemployed, one full-time and five part-time positions, when the store closes at the end of January.
Smith said customers have expressed their disappointment that the store will be closing.
“We have prices to suit anybody, (and) with the economy the way it is now there’s not a lot of people that can afford to pay a high-ticket price for a lot of items,” she said. “Yes, some people may, which is fine, but there’s a lot of people that can’t.”