On a recent weekday afternoon, children scattered through the Halloween pop-up store at 360 Miller Ave. looking for the right superhero costume to don in a few weeks.
The youngsters could be excused if they didn’t know they were shopping in the space vacated by one of Mill Valley’s once landmark businesses, a downtown fixture whose hard times of late ended with its closure in late July.
Davia Rouda, the owner of , an institution in downtown Mill Valley since 1947, was forced to close her business for the second time in two years, this time because of poor sales. Rouda said the store was generating only $2,000 per month and her rent was $5,000 a month on the 3,600-square-foot space.
“It just didn’t add up,” she said.
In December 2009, Rouda closed the store’s downtown location at 86 Throckmorton Ave. where it had been since it opened. A roof leak had badly damaged the 2,500-square-foot storefront at the time, and a legal tussle with her landlord ensued. Rouda in late September 2010.
The closure leaves a big gap on what has long been Mill Valley's version of auto row, between and in the old Mill Valley Auto Supply storefront.
Rouda bought the business in September 2005 from longtime owner Chris Steindl, who had been weighing a series of offers from out of town bidders. Then 74, Steindl wanted to retire, and Rouda rushed in at the last minute to make an offer that would keep the business locally owned.
Steindl had owned Strawbridge's since 1970, when he bought it from the Strawbridge family. It was adjacent to in the space now occupied by and in the building owned by the Kent Family Trust. The building was built in 1893.
Rouda said she’d hoped the new location would be easier for people picking up or dropping off kids at school or doing other shopping, but it never materialized.
“It was really tough,” she said.
Nick Egide of real estate broker Meridien Commercial said he’s had a few potential tenants express interest in the 360 Miller Ave. space, including a cross-fit gym and a small car showroom. Halloween Skins is set to vacate the space by Nov. 1.
“I expect to have it filled in the next month or so,” Egide said.