Bond Clothes, a downtown haberdasher that has dressed middle-class males for 50 years, plans to close its F Street Store, the latest of a number of men's stores to shut their doors here.
The Bond store originally was scheduled to close next week, but has received a 30-day extension on its going-out-of-business-sale permit and will remain open until Jan. 23, manager William J. Bachteler said yesterday.
"Our lease is up the end of January," Bachteler said. "We sought an extension of our lease and couldn't come to an agreement."
He said Bonds "would like another store in D.C., but what is available is too expensive."
Selling what Bachteler called "middle-line clothing for the guy on the street," Bonds once occupied much of the eight-story building at 1335 F St. NW, but slowly has retrenched and last year cut its operation from three floors to one.
A dozen years ago, there were 150 Bonds stores throughout the country, but the number has dwindled to about 50. The chain was sold to foreign investors in 1975, then broken up and sold in smaller groups to its management.
The downtown unit and the Prince George's Plaza Bonds, which Bachteler called a "very successful store," are among 13 Bonds now operated by a company called Proud Wind Inc.
The PG Plaza store will remain open, and some veteran downtown workers already have been transfered there, Batchelor added.
The F Street Bonds follows into extinction such once-familiar, but now only remembered men's wear downtown retailers as D. J. Kaufman, Town & Country, Cambridge, T. I. Schwartz and the Capital Hill Men's Shop on Pennsylvania Avenue SE. The biggest clothing-business casualty this year was The General Store, which shuttered 10 of its 13 discount jeans outlets several months ago.
Another downtown men's retailer, The University Shop, at 1318 G St. NW, is advertising a "liquidation sale" but "is very definately not going out of business," said manager Leon Perry. "We are just liquidating our inventory to make room for spring merchandise."
Going-out-of-business sales have become a more common way for owners to dispose of an unwanted store than selling it to new operators, said Leonard Kolodny, director of the retail bureau of the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade.
"This town is great for going-out-of-business sales," he explained. Sales attract such crowds that "owners can do better by going out" than if they sell the going concern.
The rapid redevelopment of the older parts of downtown eventually is expected to draw more shoppers into the area, but in the short run is driving out some businesses. Dozens of stores along F Street will have to be vacated for a new office-hotel-retail complex atop the Metro Center subway station, and several firms folded during Metro construction.
"I believe it will turn out to be a good area when it's all finished," said Bachteler.