During World War II, when rationing was common and merchandise was in short supply, Anne Friedman's cousin in New York shipped damaged women's clothing to Charleston where Friedman repaired the garments and sold them.
That led Friedman in 1942 to open her own shop at 312 King St. She called it Anne's.
Over time, the 3,000-square-foot apparel store underwent changes to its physical structure and its offerings, morphing into a purveyor of upscale women's clothing.
Now, after 77 years of dressing Charleston's women in the latest fashions, the longtime mainstay soon will say goodbye to its last customer.
Anne's hasn't set a definitive date for closing, but business owner Gary Snyder is eyeing the end of March, with a closeout sale starting in mid-February to coincide with the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition.
He notified his nine full-time employees Saturday of the decision.
Snyder said the business is still doing well, but he wants to step aside and enjoy his retirement.
"I've done this for 45 years, and I want to spend time with my family and my grandchildren," Snyder, 67, said. "I want to be able to do things I haven't had time to do by being in the retail business."
His mother, Sara, who started working at the shop for her mother when she was 14, still comes to help out at the age of 91, he said.
Currently, the future of the building hasn't been decided. Snyder owns it along with his sister, Denice Leebow of Atlanta, and sister-in-law Maryanne Snyder of Charleston.
"We haven't made any plans for the building yet," Snyder said. "There are always people asking though."
The second floor is used as an office while storage makes up the top floor. Altogether, the structure is close to 5,000 square feet.
Snyder said the closing has little to do with the changing retail environment of King Street as national chains have made inroads in recent years in what was once a predominantly family-owned retail destination.
"The retail business is tough and it's competitive," he said. "But we have done well. There have been many changes in the industry, but it's how you do business that has changed the most."
Anne's departure follows a parade of other local family-owned shops that have left the downtown area in recent years.
They include Morris Sokol Furniture, Dixie Furniture, George's Loan & Music Co., Bob Ellis Shoes and Bluestein's Menswear.
Some of the buildings housing the former merchants have been sold to developers as downtown Charleston's real estate prices continue to skyrocket and business owners cash in.
Snyder said he and his business partners are in no rush to sell.
"We just want to get the word out so we can start the closing," he said.