WATERTOWN — After 30 years, School Daze — the Arsenal Street store popular with teachers and parents looking for school supplies — is coming to an end.
An “Everything Must Go” sign was put up outside in front of the store last week announcing its closure.
The COVID-19 pandemic is the “major” reason why owner Ben J. Primicias III decided to close the store at 902 Arsenal St. and go with an online-only operation, he said Thursday.
“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “I’m going to miss coming in and turning on the lights and walking down the aisles.”
He regrets his customers will miss coming into the store, too.
Mr. Primicias found there was a rush of customers who shopped online when the store was forced to close in March after schools stopped in-person classes because of the ongoing pandemic.
The internet operations ran efficiently, so a brick and mortar store was no longer necessary, he said.
“It’s the sign of the times,” he said. “Everything has to evolve.”
His four employees will be retained when School Daze moves to its online operations full-time, he said.
A 20% discount on the store’s inventory began last week. He expects the store to close for good in December.
The store has always been popular with both teachers and parents who came in to pick up additional school supplies.
When she heard Wednesday night that the store was closing, Britni L. Heiligman made sure to stop in Thursday morning.
It’s been her “go-to place” to pick up supplies for her 9-year-old daughter, whom she home schools.
“I’m going to miss it,” Mrs. Heiligman said. “I liked coming in and picking up supplies.”
Looking for a new occupant, Mr. Primicias put up a “for lease” sign in May for the building he owns. A tenant has signed a lease but does not want him to make the deal public.
“It’s someone popular,” he said. “It’s someone you know.”
In 2008, Mr. Primicias added a seasonal ice cream stand to the back of the School Daze building when he opened the Ben and Jilly’s Cool Craze, named after his two children.
After the ice cream season ended this fall, he shut down the business for good.
“They’ve grown up and have their own careers now,” he said.
The new tenant will take up the entire 3,000 square feet of space in the building, he said.
It was 30 years ago he and his wife Susan opened School Daze in a downtown storefront.
They moved to Arsenal Street 25 years ago before the busy city thoroughfare filled up with national restaurant chains and other retailers.