Michael Recht is preparing for a day he never thought would come.
“I thought I would spend my last days here. I never thought this day would happen,” said Recht.
Recht is the owner of family-owned-and-operated fabric chain, Yardage Town. A store with a 66-year history in San Diego County and a classic American dream start.
“My father really enjoyed fabric. He was from Europe. He liked ‘wheeling and dealing’ and he enjoyed the fabric business. And, when he came to the United States, this is what he wanted to open up. He was first in New York and then he came to San Diego and started the business in 1953,” said Recht.
The first store was opened on Main Street in El Cajon. Shortly after, fifteen more stores opened across San Diego County. And, when Recht got old enough, the store was kept in the family – passed on to him, his sister and his nephew.
“Business was ‘booming’ and all the stores were busy. It was the ‘heyday’ of the fabric business and there were a lot of fabric stores in San Diego at that time, to take advantage of that. Everybody did business in those days. School taught sewing and people made their own things. It was a great time,” said Recht.
But, eventually, there was a shift in the local culture and many fabric stores started to go out of business. Recht credits the change to discount clothing stores opening and people not sewing as much. But still, Yardage Town kept its doors open.
“We kind of persevered. We really didn’t have anything else to do. We owned a lot of our own buildings which helped and so we didn’t have to pay enormous rents --and we just kind of stayed, even though business declined,” said Recht.
Decades later, Recht has decided to close the last four Yardage Town locations in Encinitas, Vista, Chula Vista and National City. The reason? No one to pass along the store’s legacy.
“Business was really declining. My sister left the business, my nephew left the business, and the main thing is I have nobody to leave it to. I have two children and none of them want anything to do with retail fabric sales. They’re into their own thing, and so they’re happy with what they’re doing and it’s time. I have no body left to leave it to,” said Recht.
Recht said it was a tough decision to make. It’s also a tough moment for the store’s 60-plus years-worth of local customers who have grown up with the Yardage Town brand.
“They’re kind of upset and they feel very badly. And I feel badly too but it’s kind of a thing that’s inevitable. Gonna have to close,” said Recht.
Yardage Town’s four locations will close starting at the end of March. The National City location is the store’s warehouse and will close last. Recht is asking everyone in the community to visit the store and find a deal before the family-run fabric store closes—leaving behind a strong San Diego business legacy.
“I’m gonna feel very empty. Very empty. It’s a legacy from my parents and it’s something they worked hard for and it’s going to be a very sad feeling. It’s going to be pretty depressing,” said Recht.