The charming midtown Phoenix boutique Frances will soon be closing or changing hands, according to owner Georganne Bryant, who posted a video about her situation on the store’s Instagram account on April 5.
In the video, which has been viewed over 10,000 times as of this writing, Bryant explains that she turned 60 last year and wants to spend more time on family, travel, and other pursuits. She’s hoping someone will buy the business and keep Frances going, but plans to close the shop she founded in 2006 if that doesn’t happen.
The news follows a challenging year for Frances and other small businesses affected by the pandemic. For several months, Bryant and her eight employees took curbside and mail orders rather than opening the store for in-person shopping. Now, the store — which is stocked with a rotating mix of clothing, jewelry, home goods, and other items with a localized twist — has regular business hours again, with limits on how many customers can shop at one time.
“Last year was super difficult, and I’m so proud of my staff and the customers,” Bryant says in the Instagram video. “We feel like we did hard things and we came out the other side.”
On Tuesday, when Phoenix New Times stopped by the shop, Bryant said she was feeling “really hopeful” about the future of Frances.
“I’ve already talked with 30 people who are interested in the boutique, and I’m starting to make appointments to meet with people to hear their stories,” she said.
Bryant started Frances after deciding she wanted to open a shop in her own neighborhood, giving people alternatives to large commercial centers like Biltmore Fashion Park. The store is located just off Camelback Road and Central Avenue, near where she still lives today. Her husband, who works in real estate, found the site, which used to house both a storefront church and a music studio.
Daughter Aidy Bryant, now a cast member on Saturday Night Live, was totally on board from the beginning of Frances, Bryant recalls.
“She was attending Xavier, and she really wanted me to have a cool shop near Stinkweeds,” the record store owned by Kimber Lanning, located next to Frances.
Customers were busy shopping at Frances the day after Georganne Bryant’s video announcement.
Bryant owned the 2,000-square-foot space until recently, when she sold the property to Lanning, whose other ventures have included founding Local First Arizona. “I feel really good knowing that Kimber will keep the local focus.”
Bryant wasn’t willing to publicly share the purchase price she’s looking for, but said the person who buys Frances will have a five-year lease in the space.
“I don’t have a timeline worked out,” she explained. “It all depends on whether we find someone to take over the boutique, and how that all comes together.” Bryant said she’s eager to support the new person, offering guidance and encouragement if needed.
One of many decisions the new owner would face is whether to continue Crafeteria, the beloved holiday market of local goods that Bryant started in 2006. The event didn’t happen last year due to COVID-19. Typically, Bryant starts pulling artists together for that during the summer.
Bryant said she’s grateful for all the support people have shown through the years, and eager to see how Frances might evolve moving forward. “It’s so hard because it’s my baby,” she said. “It will be different, but someone else will make Frances wonderful in their own way.”
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