HONOLULU (KHON2) — As many as 25,000 retail stores could permanently close this year due to COVID-19, according to a firm that tracks the industry.
One of those businesses that is going under because of the financial implications of the pandemic is Party Dress by Claudette.
Party Dress by Claudette is owned by Claudette Takimoto. The prom and wedding dress store has been in business on Piikoi Street on Oahu for more than 40 years.
“I treat everybody just like my own daughter. To me, they are so cute and beautiful,” Takimoto said.
Claudette Takimoto has made it her life mission to make her customers feel beautiful, which is why the decision to close up her shop has been a difficult pill to swallow.
“How can I stretch until December? It’s impossible,” she said.
The coronavirus pandemic shut down her shop in March due to Oahu’s stay-at-home order.
However, it was the cancellation of all proms, balls and weddings during her busiest season that forced her to make the painful decision.
“Small people like me, who have only one single boutique. Yes, [COVID-19] really hurt me,” she explained.
What hurts even more for Takimoto is having to close her business that she built from scratch.
Takimoto immigrated to America in her early 20s.
In 1980, she opened Party Dress by Claudette.
“Without one word of English I came, and I always think about my life… I did pretty good,” Takimoto said, proudly.
Her business allowed her to support her family. She even had the opportunity to travel to Paris and Italy dozens of times for fashion shows.
Takimoto also helped countless pageant contestants find the dress,
“She has a knack for just knowing your taste even before you know it,” said Darah Dung, Miss Chinatown Hawaii 2003.
Dung said she was heartbroken to hear the news that Party Dress by Claudette was closing due to the coronavirus. She said it is more than just a dress store.
“You just feel a great loss. It’s not just a store you know. She’s been a part of people’s biggest moments, some the biggest days of their lives. She’s not just a dress store, she’s their memories,” Dung explained, tearing up.
Takimoto said she is thankful she got to be a part of so many people’s memories over the years.
“I am so happy I became a part of them, you know?” she Takimoto said.
Takimoto said they must now get rid of everything. So, Party Dress by Claudette is offering 70% off all dresses through the end of the month.
While Takimoto wishes she could be retiring on her own terms, she wants to say thank you to all her customers.
“It’s a beautiful memory, and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you. I’m so blessed. I’m so blessed,” she said.
Party Dress by Claudette will be closing permanently on June 27.
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