ENCINITAS — A beloved family-owned fabric chain that’s been in business since the 1950s will soon be closing the remainder of its stores, beginning with its Encinitas location, and many customers are sad to see it go.
The first Yardage Town opened in El Cajon in 1953 by Rubin and Fay Recht, childhood sweethearts who emigrated to the United States from Poland. They grew the business to 14 stores and more than 100 employees — with other locations in San Diego, Chula Vista, National City, Encinitas, Vista and Escondido. Their son Michael Recht said he started working there full time in 1972, right after he graduated from San Diego State, and his sister Lucy started working there around the same time. Later on, Lucy’s son Dean also came aboard, which made it a three-generation operation for a time.
Michael Recht said after his parents died, the three of them ran the stores until Lucy and Dean retired two years ago.
Today, four stores remain, and Michael Recht said he has somewhat reluctantly decided not to renew the leases and retire as well.
“It’s not that I’m ready to retire so much it’s just I really have no one to leave it to,” Michael Recht said in a phone interview from the National City warehouse this week. “My children really don’t have any interest in taking over, and I’m 71 already, so I figure it’s better to get out of the whole thing.”
The lease at the Encinitas store on Encinitas Boulevard is the first to expire early next year. After that, the Vista location will close, followed by the Chula Vista location and finally the one in National City.
Last month, Cardiff resident David Strozyk posted on an Encinitas Facebook page about the store closing and it has so far received 130 comments.
“Super bummed. Not many of us still sew, but my kids and I do! We will miss this store!” wrote Sarah Robinson Beideres.
Another commenter, Gloria Appell Rogers, responded, “Bummer. I practically grew up in that store. My mom worked there many years.”
Jill Bedford chimed in with “Lots of good memories with Grandma in that store,” while Michael J. Schuster shared, “Great place, used to pick out my own fabric for my mom to make clothes.”
Michael Recht said he empathizes with his customers and is just as sad as they are to see it close.
“They’ve expressed a lot of sorrow in the fact that they know that we’re eventually going to be closing,” he said. “I really feel bad about it because there’s not too many places else to go (for fabric). I’m sorry about that.”
He said a lot of fabric stores across the country have closed down, and unfortunately business isn’t what it used to be.
Michael Recht said he’s enjoyed his nearly 50 years at Yardage Town and sharing in the customers’ love of fabric.
“Sometimes they’ll show me pictures of what they made, and they’ll say, ‘thank you,’” he said. “It’s nice.”
He said, in the meantime, before the shops close, he hopes people will still come out and continue to buy fabric.
“Come in, things are on sale,” he said, playfully adding, “that’s me as a businessman talking.”
Michael Recht admits it will be hard for him to let go of the only real job he’s ever had and he’s a bit apprehensive about retirement. But one thing he’ll likely do is spend more time with his 2-year-old granddaughter.
“I’m a new grandfather, she’s a lot of fun,” he said.
And he can take some comfort in knowing his family leaves a lasting legacy that many will treasure, which can be summed up in this simple send off on Facebook by Anna Marie Ward: “Thank you Yardage Town, I will miss you!”