Art Off Symmes owner Sherry Armstead (left) is closing the downtown Hamilton location of the retail store that offers art and collectibles after six years in business. Armstead’s Art On Symmes store in Fairfield will remain open, and she said she hopes to open a “rebranded” store in Hamilton in the future. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Hamilton retailer Art Off Symmes closing its doors this month

Sherry Armstead announced Friday she is closing the Hamilton location of the retail store that offers art and collectibles after six years in business; however, her Art On Symmes store in Fairfield will remain open.

Armstead, a Liberty Twp. resident, said it has been a challenge to run both stores, especially since the death of her husband, Lou, a little over one year ago.

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“Part of my problem is that when you have two stores and you are only one person, you have a lot of overhead when it comes to staffing,” Armstead told the Journal-News. “My husband helped me with so much around the store — like the little things that require a handyman’s touch. He was such a cheerleader and helped with so many things. It has been hard keeping both stores going after he died.”

Armstead said she has notified her landlord that she will be out of the space at 228 High St. by Dec. 31.

Armstead, who was named the 2015 Small-Business Person of the Year by the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, said the Hamilton location came about after several customers urged her to be a part of the city’s downtown revitalization.

“It was a challenge,” she said. “I didn’t realize it would be one of the biggest I would ever undertake.”

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One of the biggest challenges facing the Hamilton location has been parking, she said.

“The parking situation downtown has just become absurd,” Armstead said. “There just isn’t enough parking available to accommodate the stores.”

Still, Armstead said she won’t permanently rule out operating a business in Hamilton, a city that she said she loves.

“I am looking at some other retail space in Hamilton and I am definitely looking at rebranding Art Off Symmes to a new name. I am working with a developer in Hamilton to see if we can put a new store there,” she said, declining to disclose any more specifics, but saying plans could come to fruition by the summer.

“It was with some sadness that I have had to make the decision to close the High Street location in Hamilton, especially since we were the first retailer on the block with the revitalization,” Armstead said. “I love Hamilton and I can’t see anything else but a bright future for us in Hamilton.”

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Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller saluted Armstead and her family for running a business that made the city proud.

“I certainly thank the Armstead family for their investment as a modern day ‘pioneer’ business in downtown, when not many new businesses were opening and many storefronts were dark,” Moeller said. “I remember how exciting it was when their sign was placed on the building. Their artwork and sale items were always high class.”

Jenni Hubbard, co-owner of the Almond Sisters Bakery near Armstead’s Hamilton shop, said she is glad the businesswoman has plans to open again in Hamilton.

“I can’t wait to see what she comes up with,” Hubbard said.

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