Arabus leaving Fort Street

High-end clothing store Arabus Boutique is moving from its home of 39 years after its rent increased dramatically.

Owner Edward Solomon said he is heartbroken to be leaving the store in Fort Street, George Town, after almost four decades.

Arabus will reopen in Edward Street at the beginning of March.

The store will likely close down on Thursday , 26 February, and reopen in its new premises on Monday, 2 March.

Mr. Solomon said he would be very sorry to leave the Fort Street shop where he has seen his stock and clientele grow and change over the decades.

He had a 10-year lease on the premises, split into two five-year increments, but did not have a cap on the second five years, he said.

‘There was a major increase in rent, almost 500 per cent. It went from US$25 per square foot to more than US$100 per square foot. You can’t sell enough close to cover that, you’d have to be selling drugs or diamonds,’ he said.

‘I’ve got a lot of memories in this place. It’s like home. It will be so sad to leave here, like a funeral,’ Mr. Solomon said.

While not in the mood to throw a party to mark the departure from the store, he will be holding a relocation sale.

‘I was thinking about doing something like a fashion show [before we closed], but then I thought ‘I don’t think I want to’. It’s like losing a dear friend,’ he said.

Arabus opened in the waning years of the 1960s and positioned itself as an exclusive outlet for European designer clothing.

‘We started out with all European clothes. We were the first to carry Armani, long before he was popular in the United States. It was just as he was starting out. We did a lot of Versace and Armani and Burberry, the whole nine yards. That was in the 70s and 80s, and then we started to incorporate American designers like Calvin Klein and Donna Kara,’ he said.

Over the years, he has seen his clientele change, the hip young things of the 70s and 80s have morphed into the fashionable kids of today, many recommended to the store by their parents.

‘It’s weird, the mothers and fathers used to come in here, and now their kids are buying. Growing up, we used to laugh when people asked us who our parents were, and now I’m asking ‘who you fa?’ Now, I have to ask, I don’t know them,’ he said.

Tourists also make their way to Arabus, especially British ones who find they can buy items like Ted Baker even cheaper in Cayman than in the UK because there is no value added tax here.

The new Arabus store will be at the site of what is now The Last Tender, which is moving into an upper floor of the building Arabus is moving out of in Fort Street.