Local Business

Children’s clothing shop to close

  • Closing soon: Susan Gilbert, right, is closing Pirates Port Kids, but the business lives on through her daughter Jessica Cassidy, left, who now runs Pirates Port Ladies (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
  • Closing soon: Susan Gilbert, right, is closing Pirates Port Kids, but the business lives on through her daughter Jessica Cassidy, left, who now runs Pirates Port Ladies (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
  • Closing soon: Susan Gilbert, right, is closing Pirates Port Kids, but the business lives on through her daughter Jessica Cassidy, left, who now runs Pirates Port Ladies (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

After clothing Bermuda’s children for almost four decades, Pirates Port Kids closes at the end of the month.

Owner Susan Gilbert said she’d tried hard, but the business just wasn’t there any more.

“The kid’s clothing business has died,” the 71-year-old said.

Her daughter Jessica Cassidy, who runs Pirates Port Ladies — which is not closing — said at one time people would buy four or five different outfits for their children at holidays like Cup Match and Christmas.

“That’s just not happening any more,” she said.

With the economy being tight, people were being more frugal.

“People are buying more online now,” Ms Gilbert said. “People are shopping in charity shops more and buying less. We have always kept prices low, but that means we have to sell a lot. The cost of doing business is so high.”

In June, Pirates Port Kids moved from the lower level of the Washington Mall to the upper level to access cheaper rent.

“The customers have been absolutely wonderful,” Ms Gilbert said. “Customers have said ‘we hope you make it. We have always shopped here.’ They have been wonderful.”

Ms Cassidy said her mother also appreciated all the notes of concern and support they’d received through social media.

A lot of customers had expressed concern that there is now even less choice for children’s clothes on the island.

Ms Gilbert didn’t know what would happen to her three long-time staff members.

“My mother will take care of them as much as she can,” Ms Cassidy said.

Ms Gilbert and her late husband Robin Gilbert, first bought the business 42 years ago from Al and Claire Perry, when it was located in Flatts.

“It was a general clothing store at that time,” she said. “We opened Pirates Port Kids in 1984.”

For a long time the store was located in the Bermudiana Arcade, but eventually settled in the Washington Mall. Then in 2009, Ms Cassidy took over the ladies’ arm of Pirates Port.

Ms Cassidy said she was never interested in the family business as a child; she was always doing other things.

“I didn’t think I would be here, but I am, and it is good,” she said. “It is nice to carry on the family business.”

She has learnt a lot about running a business from her mother.

Ms Gilbert was pleased to see that part of the business would be continuing with Ms Cassidy, especially since the store started out focused on women.

Pirates Port Ladies, is located on the lower level of the Washington Mall.

Ms Gilbert said she didn’t really know what she would do in retirement since she has worked hard all her life.

“It is not like at any moment we were standing around,” she said. “Everyone has worked eight, nine, ten hours a day. We have never had a moment.”

Pirates Port Kids will be offering sales of 30 to 60 per cent off until they close their doors on October 31.

“Everything will be really great prices,” Ms Cassidy said. “Obviously, the variety is there now, but if you wait, that might be gone. There are still good school wear options.”