Tickle's gift shop in Swansea set to close

(WJAR)

Tickle's, a favorite Swansea boutique and gift shop that opened its doors for the first time nearly 30 years ago, is closing for good at the end of the holidays.

It's another sign of the "shopping online" times.

With everything marked down 20 percent or more during the first day of clearance, the store was packed Thursday with shoppers looking for a bargain.

“Vendors that used to only sell to specialty shops -- now they sell to the big box stores, so it's hard for us to find those real special items that you can only get at our store,” said owner Lynn Tickle.

It's the competition and convenience of online shopping that has cut into the Tickle's business 40 percent over the past few years, triggering the decision to close.

“Honestly, we can't compete with Amazon, nobody can. I mean, with the selection, the timing, delivered tomorrow, you can get it in every size, every color,” Lynn said.

The store has always morphed over the years, starting in 1989 in a small strip mall around the corner, selling 18th century hand-crafted furniture made by Jack Tickle.

That didn’t work as a long-term business model.

“No, no. There wasn't, absolutely,” said Jack.

At the six-times bigger Route 6 location, the focus became local southern New England goods, including towels, trinkets, women's clothes, gifts, jewelry with embedded sand from Horseneck Beach, along with an adjacent tea room.

Kitty Mendes, of Somerset, said she isn’t happy with stores giving way to online retail.

“I love shopping with my daughter, and that's not going to be anymore,” she said. “You know, a quaint go to lunch, shop. So, it's another part of the family being taken away.”

Four years ago, the Tickle's bought a piece of property right next door to the boutique, bakery, and tea room, and opened a restaurant called The Aviary.

“So far, you can't order a martini and get it delivered by Amazon,” Lynn said. “Hopefully, people aren't going to stop completely socializing in the future.”

All sales are final until everything is gone. Then, the Tickles will enjoy a long vacation before ramping up the planned expansion of The Aviary into the very space occupied now by the boutique.

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