After 15 years at 1915 Ocean Avenue, Carmen Susie Barros is closing In Style, her women’s clothing boutique, following the holiday season.
One of the few clothing stores on the corridor, In Style features everything from embroidered wool coats to boho sundresses to sparkly clubwear. Embellishments, color and shine are favorites.
“We get a very diverse crowd,” said Barros of her customers’ range in ethnicity and age. Many attend nearby high schools or colleges. The store’s youngest customer is four, and the oldest is 87, store manager Ashley Rose said.
“Every semester, we get a new crop of college students,” she said. Customers are drawn to the store’s selection of unusual pieces- many are one of only a few manufactured.
Dressed in a sleek black turtleneck and glamorous gold jewelry, Barros embodies the never-basic In Style look. “What sells best? Anything fun and fashionable. Going-out outfits,” she said.
With many years experience in the fashion industry, the Brazil native has decided to take a rest from the retail business. She owned her first store when she was just 18. After moving to San Francisco, she managed a boutique in the city before opening In Style.
Today, neon colored signs cover the huge front windows advertising sales and markdowns, and customers line up to purchase sale items, most under $30. Bins of handbags sit next to racks of $10 babydoll dresses. One customer shows off her purchase: a vintage-inspired lacy top and lightweight military jacket.
Ilma Macedo, Barros’ niece, has been working at the store off and on since it opened. “It’s a mystery box,” she said of the eclectic mix. “You can always find something.”
Ocean Avenue has improved since the store opened in 1999, Barros said. However changes to the 1900 block of the corridor have been contentious. Neighbors have tried to block a massage parlor, vaporizer retailer that also offers stone steam hookah and a billiard hall from opening up in the past three years.
“Foot traffic has increased, and I see people walking around the area at night now.” An Ingleside resident, she had her eye on the soaring 3,000-square foot building before opening the store, which sits between Joes’ Excellent Chinese Cuisine and a tattoo parlor. As far as she knows, there is no other occupant lined up for the space, which is large enough to host a flagship store.
Being one of the few stores of its kind in the neighborhood has had its advantages and disadvantages. “It would be nice to have more clothing stores on the street,” Barros said. But being the only store has also meant little competition.
Barros isn’t sure of the exact closing date, as she has plenty more inventory to sell off. Though she usually isn’t there for the store’s day-to-day operations, she will be there regularly until after Christmas for the final sale.
“Bring in a copy of the December 2014 Ingleside Light and receive an additional ten percent off on already reduced items,” she said.
What will Barros do after the store’s final run?
“I’m going to take a long vacation, refresh and maybe do something else,” she said. “But this is what I’ve been doing all my life, I don’t know if I’d know how to do something else!”
In Style is located at 1915 Ocean Avenue between Ashton Avenue and Keystone Way and will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. until after Christmas.