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SOAPMARKET SLIPPING INTO THE ETHER

Soapmarket owner Ellen D’Amore is closing her store to focus on its online component. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The ever-churning face of Monmouth Street in Red Bank losing another stalwart.

Soapmarket, which survived a head-on challenge from chain retailer Bath Junkie when it opened down the street and closed not long afterward, will itself close next month.

But owner Ellen D’Amore says this is not a surrender story. It’s also “not a rent issue,” she says. Rather, her business has found its footing online, and it’s time to make a shift to a web-only operation.

“The store does well, but it’s expensive” to carry the overhead, D’Amore tells redbankgreen.

Soapmarket opened at 12 Monmouth seven years ago. In that time, the turnover among the street’s merchants has sometimes been head-spinning. Among stalwarts like Mr. Pizza Slice, David Levine Salon and Wooly Monmouth, there’s been a continuing wave of departures, infilling and departures of infillers. Adams Imports or Four Chicks and a Rooster, anyone?

Still, the Monmouth strip between Broad Street and Maple Avenue retains a small-shop charm thanks to vacancy fillers like the Cheese Cave, Sogo Sushi, and Wooly Monmouth, whose original space was taken by Fragile Earth Stuffed Animals and Gifts of Whimsy when it moved a few doors west last year.

D’Amore says she hopes to sell down much of her inventory, and all the fixtures, including “nice, generic, real wood” shelving from Ikea.

“I’m sad, and I’m happy,” she said of her departure. “I love this store. I love Monmouth Street.”

D’Amore, who lives in town, says she’ll continue to make home deliveries to local customers of her online business.

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