BRADENTON -- It took them eight years, but the owners of On a Shoestring have crossed the finish line on their retail business to focus solely on their event management and timing company, S2 Timing, and on Suncoast Striders, the walking and running club they started.
"It is only after great thought, prayer and regret that we inform you that we are closing On A Shoestring," Steve and Sharon Litschauer told their regular customers in a letter Monday afternoon. "It has been a great and enjoyable almost eight years of business."
Closing the retail store at 3633 Cortez Rd., was a tough decision, emotionally, Steve Litschauer said, but it made business sense.
"Being smart in business is knowing to close when you're on top," he said. "There was not enough volume to sustain us. How do you meet your goals and stay upbeat when you know it's going to happen anyway?"
While they are closing their retail business, the couple plan to stay active in the Manatee Chamber of Commerce and in the community in other ways. "We're simply shifting gears," Litschauer said.
The couple are keeping their running and walking events business and will stay actively involved with the Suncoast Striders, but are getting out of retail because sales at their stores were not
likely to rise significantly after nearly eight years.
"When we opened almost eight years ago, we had a 3-to-5-year business plan and then the economic downturn hit and we changed it to a 5-to-7-year business plan," Litschauer said. "We decided when we reached a certain amount of money, if things weren't pay off we would close. Sales have continued to increase, but not enough."
Litschauer said knowing when the right time to get out of business is important. He said no one has missed out on getting paid, no employees and no vendors.
"We have made this decision when we are at the top of our game and proud of what we have accomplished."
The store's closing was a shock to many customers who have voted them Bradenton's best shoe store and who helped make them "One of the 50 Best Running Stores in America in 2012.
Litschauer credited his staff for helping their reputation grow. He was busy Tuesday afternoon sending an employees' resume to what was once a competitor.
And in their letter to customers the Litschauers were ever thoughtful and generous.
"We encourage our customers to shop at Fleet Feet Sarasota, New Balance University Park and New Balance Sarasota; we believe that you will experience the same great service from them as you found from us," they wrote.
A liquidation sale begins at On a Shoestring on Thursday when everything in the store will be marked 25 percent off.