The Muse's Window, selling clothing and jewelry in East Arlington for less than two years, is closing at the end of March, and a clearance sale continues.

Karin Biow, Muse's WindowOwner Karin Biow outside The Muse's Window in 2018. 

Owner Karin Biow has found her customers kind and welcoming, but cannot continue because of insufficient walk-in traffic at 191 Mass. Ave. That means she has not been able to sell enough inventory.

Asked to explain further, she attributed that to many factors:

"I've been struggling primarily because of competition from online retailers and other local discount stores.

"Small stores do not get breaks on the cost of the inventory they purchase, and we don't have high volume, so if our inventory doesn't sell at close to full price or with a marginal discount, we lose money.

"This holds true for most small, brick-and-mortar stores, and I'm not sure that many customers understand what we are up against. Everyone loves to purchase items that are on sale, but small retailers cannot afford to sell this way on a regular basis -- it's a formula for going out of business."

Evaluating further, she commented: " ... although the media is always touting how strong this economy is, I think that's only true for a minority of people, or for those who are invested in the stock market -- and the stock market is not the real economy. The average person does not have money to spend impulsively."

She added: "I want to make very clear that this is not a matter of rent, as I believe my rent at this space is very reasonable, and my landlord has been more than fair to me." 

As to general concern about the closing of small stores like Biow's, she offered a plea -- "that people try to shop small as much as possible, if they want to see thriving stores in their communities."

She asks customers to take advantage of her closing sale and "please stop by to say goodbye."

She calls The Muse's Window a "whimsical fine handcraft gallery ... specializing in unusual, American-made jewelry, artisan clothing and small handcrafted gifts and accessories for the home. The sale schedule:

  • 50 percent off and more on all merchandise, through Feb. 22 (some items already reduced more).
  • 60 percent of and more Feb. 25 through 29.
  • March schedule to be announced.

Biow has inventory in storage that she will be bringing in and selling at steep discounts over this period.

She had hoped to succeed at a real storefront in Arlington, after moving from a second-story hideaway in Concord. The Muse's Window first opened in Lexington 2001.

After almost 19 years in business, she is looking for a full-time job, but not in retail. Biow has two master's degrees and has had several careers. She is seeking administrative work, ideally in a university or a nonprofit.

"Fortunately, I'm optimistic about my prospects, in spite of my age," she wrote. "At least, there are many plus-70-year-olds in the public arena now .... I didn't think I'd be in this position, but I'm lucky that I'm healthy and active enough to begin a new chapter in my life."

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This news summary was published Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020.