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Goodbye, Penny Lane: Local store to close its German Street brick-and-mortar location

By Staff | May 29, 2020

Penny Lane Emporium owner Margaret Walker is closing her brick-and-mortar location on German Street on May 31. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — On May 31, Penny Lane Emporium will close its doors, at 116 East German Street, for the last time.

The shop, which was opened last year on June 1, sells a variety of items created by local artists, along with manufactured items, like leggings and beard oil.

“This is my one-year anniversary,” said Penny Lane Emporium owner Margaret Walker on Friday afternoon. “I had fun and I did well my first year, but COVID-19 came in and shut us down in the middle of March.

“When you have to pay rent every month, it becomes a stress, and I said, ‘this was supposed to be fun!'” Walker said, explaining her reason for closing her brick-and-mortar location. “If it hadn’t been for COVID-19, I wouldn’t be closing.”

Although the shop had to close in March and remain closed until May 15, it has had enough business to cover the cost its rent. And, even though its brick-and-mortar location will be closed, it will soon begin selling from its website, which is currently under development.

Penny Lane Emporium will continue to sell the work of local artists on its website. Tabitha Johnston

“I’m not going out of business. I’m getting rid of that overhead cost. Having brick-and-mortar is just too expensive,” Walker said, mentioning she is grateful for her loyal customers, who made her dream of having a shop in Shepherdstown a reality. “People have been very supportive.”

According to Walker, the majority of her business came from customers visiting Shepherdstown during the Contemporary American Theater Festival. With this year’s festival having been rescheduled for July 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Walker said she also anticipated that this year would not be as economically productive, if she retained her storefront.

“Eight out of 10 of my customers were from somewhere else — the District of Columbia, Leesburg, Baltimore, northern Virginia, Pennsylvania — just people traveling through for CATF,” Walker said. “When we had all those folks in here, we did very well.”

While Walker said she will miss having in-person contact with her customers on a regular basis, she believes her new business model will be more sustainable. And, regardless of what happens with the pandemic in the coming months, her business will be able to continue operating.

“I’m at peace with my decision,” Walker said. “At my age, I’m just reducing the stress. Why do it, if it’s not fun?

Penny Lane Emporium will open for the last time this weekend, in its location at 116 East German Street. Tabitha Johnston

“I’m still going to be selling stuff by West Virginia craftsmen and unique items and specialized clothes — a lot of gifts, jewelry and handmade items,” Walker said. “I’m sad I’m leaving this little storefront, but I think I’m making the right decision.”

To learn more, visit www.facebook.com/pennylaneemporiumwv/.

Penny Lane Emporium opened on June 1. Tabitha Johnston

Many of the products in Penny Lane Emporium are currently on sale. Tabitha Johnston