Morgan Imports, an iconic Brightleaf District institution, announced in a Facebook post that it will be holding a “huge BYE BYE SALE” beginning on August 27. Last year, the store celebrated 50 years of business.
Owner Richard Morgan, who runs the store alongside his wife, Jacqueline, confirmed the news on Saturday.
A Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War, Morgan opened the store in 1969 in the former Piggly Wiggly store on Main Street, moving later to an old Pontiac dealership on Morgan Street. In 1991, the store relocated to its current location in the drafty, cavernous Durham Laundry building at the corner of West Peabody and South Gregson.
Since then, the store has seen scores of odds and ends pass through its doors; from specialty soaps and kitchen towels to jewelry and couches—those items, and many others you wouldn’t have walked into the store knowing you were looking for. During the holiday season, every year, the store becomes the heart of downtown, with customers searching for last-minute stocking stuffers and decorations.
“If you want something special, you come here,” Steve Couch, a freelance marketer at the store, told the INDY in an interview last year. “I think people get the sense that profit is not Richard’s primary motive. He’s still working at eighty-plus years and frying up donuts in December. It’s more like a family.”
Businesses in the Brightleaf corner of downtown have suffered a tumultuous few years. On April 10 of last year, a gas leak caused an explosion that killed two people and injured dozens of others and caused several businesses to close for repairs. In December of 2019, the Brightleaf Square site was sold to the Charlotte-based Asana Partners for $39 million.
Over the phone, Morgan cited retirement, the pandemic, and an upcoming lease renewal as factors in the closure. He adds that the store will hold the closing sale until as late as Thanksgiving, but he’s playing things by ear.
“All the stars are aligned,” Morgan, who is 84, said of the decision to close. “It’s difficult and emotional. I get teared up every time I think about it.”
“On the one hand, we’re sad and nostalgic,” Jacqueline Morgan said in a follow-up call. “But it’s also time for a new adventure.”
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