RACINE - A store with 152 years of history in Racine will soon be just that - a part of the city's history.

Porters of Racine, the city's high-end furniture store at 301 Sixth St., will be closing.

"The decision has been made," Micah Waters, the vice president of Porters, said Tuesday.

"Under this economy the high-end luxury market has been hit like we have never seen before."

The Waters family made the decision before Christmas and then sent out letters to customers informing them of the decision, he said. They currently employ about 30 people, said Waters.

The building filled with four floors of furniture covering a total of 80,000 square feet will be closing next year, Waters said. But he did not have a final closing date.

Porters was established in 1857. It started in a warehouse on Fifth Street then moved to Main Street after the Great Fire of 1866 and later opened in its current location in 1939. It was one of the first stores in the country to have furniture arranged in room-like settings. The company was established by William A. Porter, but was sold to the Gottlieb family in 1919. In 1962, Waters' uncle, Bob Waters, joined the business and partnered with Marie Crowley Gottlieb and he still owns the business today.

When talking what to do about the business, Waters said his family discussed changing their products and offering furniture that wasn't all high-end. But that wasn't an option for their businesses, he said.

"It just wouldn't be Porters if we went down on the products we offer," Waters said.

The family had hoped for strong fall sales, but that did not happen, he said.

Last week Porters announced they were closing their furniture clearance center in Wauwatosa, but at the time they did not announce the closing of the Racine store.

There used to be two other clearance stores including one in Elmwood Plaza and one in Brookfield, but both of those have also closed.

The news of the closing of the Downtown Porters was shocking to Ashley Herring, 21, who works across the street at Moxie Child, 304 Sixth St.

"Porters is closing? Oh my gosh," Herring said. "My biggest concern is what that is going to do for Downtown. They have been here so long. They are such a big part of Downtown. ... It takes up a whole block."

Looking at the store from the outside, chandeliers now sparkle in the windows above plush couches and ornate tables.

But soon the city landmark will join the ranks of other past businesses - as another empty storefront.

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