ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — From the time Rhonda Ashcraft bought what is now Articles For Her 40 years ago, she’s never considered doing anything else.
But after decades at the helm of the Northeast Heights women’s clothing boutique, Ashcraft is retiring and closing her business for good.
Like many people across the country, the coronavirus pandemic forced Ashcraft to take a break from her business and finally “slow down” when her store at 8510 Montgomery NE had to temporarily close towards the beginning of the year.
It was during the closure that Ashcraft realized that now is the time to retire.
“It was just time,” she said. “I really always thought I’d work until I was 70, but once COVID hit … you had to slow down and really think about things. It’s like ‘what am I doing?'”
The timing of her retirement and the subsequent closure of her store coincide with her lease coming up for renewal.
Ashcraft, who graduated with a business degree from the University of New Mexico, said she hadn’t necessarily set her sights on owning a business after graduating, but the stars aligned when she saw that her former college job was for sale.
“I looked in the newspaper and the store was for sale and two weeks later we owned it,” she said.
Ashcraft said that when she purchased the store it was operating under a different name and catered mainly to taller women. The name change to Articles For Her happened several years after her purchase.
During her ownership, Ashcraft said she was guided by her love of “beautiful fabrics and beautiful clothes and jewelry” and she always sought to carry unique items in her store from lesser-known brands.
“I never looked for anything else to do,” she said. “It’s always been a fun job and a successful job for me and I’ve enjoyed being a part of the community.”
Ashcraft said she is excited to retire and spend more time with her family since all of her children and grandchildren have moved away from Albuquerque, but her customers will be missed.
Since the announcement of the closure was made, Ashcraft said customers have been coming in with tears in their eyes and sending emails expressing their dismay.
“It’s still just kind of sad saying goodbye to some of these people I really have known for 30 or 40 years,” she said.
Articles For Her will remain open for the retirement sale until all of the inventory and fixtures are sold, which Ashcraft predicts will take up to eight weeks. The store is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.