The Gap’s departure to leave void in Wellesley Square

The Gap in Wellesley Square has survived rumors of its departure over the years —”The Gap’s plan to close dozens of stores puts future of Wellesley Square shop into question (2015)” and “Wellesley Square Gap: We’re sticking around (2011)”.

But since it opened in 1991, it kept sticking around through good and bad times. This time, however, it looks as though the clothing and apparel shop at 74 Central St. is closing for good. Shoppers bittersweetly are gobbling up merchandise marked 30% to 50% off.

The Gap closing

The Gap, which opened its first store in 1969, has nearby stores at Natick Mall and Legacy Place in Dedham.

What used to be at 74 Central St., in Wellesley Square before the Gap? Scrolling through Wellesley Townsman archives, we learned that a women’s clothing store called C. Crawford Hollidge operated at the address in the 1950s and 1960s. Department store R.H. Stearns occupied the space as well in the past, as did a Filene’s Men’s store, according to current and past residents contacted via a Facebook memories group.

Here’s why Gap says the store closed: “As part of our company strategy to adapt to the changing needs of our customer and growth of our online business, we are looking thoughtfully at our real estate to support the best path forward. As a result, we are closing  a number of stores across the Gap Inc. fleet, including our Gap brand store in Wellesley, MA at the end of January 2021. We remain committed to making appropriate and timely decisions on stores that don’t fit our vision for the future of Gap Inc. We are confident these closures will help strengthen the health of our company moving forward.”

Gap, Inc., reported flat sales this past quarter, but strong online sales. It also named a new chief growth officer…never a good sign.

Property manager Linear Retail lists 16K-plus sq. ft. of space available at 74 Central Street. We sent an inquiry to them to get their reaction to The Gap’s departure and any word on incoming tenants.

The Gap closing

The end of the year is often a time of sudden store closings as leases expire. Wellesley has had its fair share of business closings this year, some hastened by the pandemic. But on the bright side, new shops such as  Laurel Grove and Salt have opened.