Life After Recession: Where Do the Owners of Shuttered Shops Go?

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A look by Yoko Devereaux, Jill Bradshaw in Albuquerque, a look from Coletta's online store. Photo: Courtesy of Yoko Devereaux, Jill Bradshaw, and ColettaNY.com

No one likes to hear about a store shuttering. But it happens, and you can't ignore reality when you walk down a street littered with empty storefronts. And it's not just the stores that seem to disappear from our lives; it's the people who ran them, too. So we decided to check on some former boutique owners to see what they're doing now: Jill Bradshaw of I Heart, Nicole Jerner of Coletta, and Andy Salzer of Yoko Devereaux are all moving on, we've learned, and with all three there's a silver lining to be found. Read on for intel on new projects, soul-searching, and life changes.

Yoko Devereaux
Run by: Andy Salzer
Date closed: June 29, 2009
What now? Andy Salzer is still recovering from the shock of closing a few weeks ago, but he's finding optimism in his situation. "When something like this happens to you, [your] first reaction [is], 'I'm a failure.' The reality of the situation is a bit different from that," he told us. "After all the remorse, there's a thrill of the huge life change of it all. I'm in a position where I can take the rest of the summer off, so that's what I am going to do. I'm leaving Brooklyn — which everyone is most shocked by — and I'm moving to Chelsea." Does that reflect his change in attitude? Certainly. "People are willing to take more risks, to pick up and move and make changes because you have nothing to lose. It's all a big mess right now, so I'm really looking forward to it. And I'm generally not an optimistic person, which is so liberating." In terms of finding another job, that probably won't happen until fall. "Beginning of fall is going to be a restart month for me. I have not had a boss since 1994, so I really don't want to jump into a situation. I need to clear my head and take a break so I can pick and choose. I've had two offers already. The bigger question doesn't become what I'm going to do next, but how I want to change next."

I Heart
Run by: Jill Bradshaw
Date closed: May 24, 2009
What now?: As soon as I Heart closed in May, owner Jill Bradshaw decided to take the summer off and travel. Her first move: A cross-country trip. In June she flew to Los Angeles, bought a silver '95 Ford Aerostar van and named it Kevin, met up with a few friends, and decided to drive it back to New York. Her has crew stopped in Phoenix, Santa Fe, Denver, and is on its way to Kansas, Memphis, and Charlottesville, Virginia, before heading back to the Northeast. "It was the right time for me to close the store," she told us over the phone en route to Omaha. "I had [the store] for over five years, and it just came to pass. I never saw myself as a retail girl for the rest of my life. And it was the right time to end one chapter and start another." When she returns, she plans to keep her Aerostar in New York while pursuing consulting work.

Coletta
Run by: Nicole Jerner
Date closed: June 24, 2009
What now?: Jerner blames bad timing for the closing of her Soho shop, which was open for only five months before shutting down. "Timing was everything and it was the absolute worst," she told us. "It was just me — all the responsibility. I looked at the numbers and they didn't make sense." And now that the shop has closed, she's turning her attention to the building up her online store. "I'm not giving up by closing my shop, just transitioning what my shop is. I don't have the huge expenses that I had in the boutique store. It's so low cost to have a website. It's almost a no-brainer." Her fall stock is already on the way, and she's brought in several young international designers to sell, like former Givenchy designer Yulia Yusupova, the Italian line Carta e Costura, and former Sonia Rykiel designer Rime Arodaky.