After 36 years of business, R & M Children’s Boutique, a Ridgewood store run by first-generation Italian-Americans offering imported dress clothes for communion and christening, is shutting down.
“After a long thought, we decided, especially after our mom passed, that it’s about time we close the doors,” said Rita D’antoni.
Rita, who ran the shop with her mother and sister — both named Maria — from its opening, said that the decision was based on a combination of financial and personal reasons. At 65, she was ready to retire, but she said that sales had been long declining as a result of online shopping.
“The times have changed. That’s what I tell my customers. Amazon is doing a nice job,” D’antoni said.
The business weathered a number of economic shake ups before the explosion of e-commerce in recent years. When it opened it 1983, the D’antonis would import many of their items from Italy, but that changed with Italy’s adoption of the Euro in 2002, driving up the exchange rate from that of the lira.
“Italy became very untouchable,” said D’antoni.
Eventually the shop began importing its clothing from South America, which D’antoni said had comparable quality to the Italian products. D’antoni said that people of her age still want to see that merchandise and to feel its quality in the store, but that doesn’t seem to be the priority for the new generation of young mothers.
Still for decades, D’antoni said that they maintained a clientele who passed down their loyalty to the store from generation to generation.
“To even see the kids that you dressed up for their communion … coming back with their own children, it was really fabulous,” she said.
D’antoni has not set a final closing date. Based on the amount of inventory they have left, she expects to stay in business through October or possibly November, but they’re not going to make it to Christmas.