Ludlow: Urban Clothier Hit Hard by Bad Economy

Earnest Young spends many hours in front of his clothing store on West Girard Avenue.
Earnest Young spends many hours in front of his clothing store on West Girard Avenue.

Earnest Young has always loved fashion. From the time he was a little boy, he took extra care when selecting what to wear.

“From when I was 10 years old, back in junior high school I was best dressed and all that,” said Young, 42. “And now, this place is a reflection of me.”

The place he is referring to is Young Urban Boutique, a small clothing store that caters to a youthful urban clientele. Located on West Girard Avenue near the corner of North Seventh Street, this shop sells edgy jeans, t-shirts, dresses and accessories.  Young has owned and operated YUB for eleven years.

“I don’t get clothes based on what’s hot,” he said, showing off one of the handmade vests he has in stock. “I get things that catch my eye and what’s hot does not always catch my eye.”

But Young’s passion for fashion is waning.

Young showing off one of his favorite handmade items.

“I used to love selling clothes,” he said. “Now it’s just something for me to do.”

Even though the U.S. Department of Commerce issued a report in May stating that U.S. retail sales were up 8.1 percent between February and April of 2011 when compared with the same time period last year, YUB has not seen an increase in its sales for years.

“Normally, my busiest time would be May, June and July,” Young said.  “But, it’s skipping me this year. It skipped me last year and it skipped me the year before.”

Young says business at YUB was not always slow.  There were years when the boutique could not keep items in stock.

“At one time, we were probably doing $150,000 to $200,000 a year,” he said.  “Now we are not doing a quarter of that.”

These days, Young is forced to take from his personal savings to make up for financial shortfalls.

“The only reason I am still here is because I have a supportive wife,” he said.

Young says many of the items he sells are hand made by local vendors.

Yet, Young refuses to give up.  He comes to work every morning hoping for two things: that the economy will rebound and positive change will happen in Ludlow.

“What you see from Fourth Street down to Front Street and from Tenth Street up to Broad Street– this area is treated so differently,” he said.  “They could make this whole area uniform and attractive and cost effective.”

Until that day, Young says he will keep hanging on and hoping for the economy to improve.

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