UPDATE: Everything appears back to normal Saturday morning at Tootsies. The front entrance is open and workers are scraping black paint off the windows, allowing natural light back into the store. A Tootsies rep says the store will continue its moving sale at the current location through the end of the month.
Employees at Tootsies were surprised to arrive at work at the Highland Village shopping center Friday morning to discover that the windows had been blacked out, the sign had been obscured and the front door had been blocked off with orange cones, meshed netting and jackhammered concrete, so that customers could not enter the store.
"It's plain and simple: Their lease is up," said a Highland Village spokesperson. "Highland Village is trying to get them out because we need to move on to the next big thing. Tootsies is a chapter that was fabulous at Highland Village. It's time to close and everybody move on."
The chic womenswear store is moving to West Ave and its lease at Highland Village reportedly ended at the end of 2010.
Throughout the day, employees in Tootsies T-shirts and attractive knee-high black boots stood outside the store directing customers to a side entrance. Inside the store, the 75-percent sales racks appeared picked over, although some spectacular deals are to be had on special occasion dresses, handbags, and shoes — assuming customers can enter the store on Saturday.
The store was doing a brisk business when CultureMap visited Friday afternoon. PaperCity editor Holly Moore was seen removing artwork from a pop-up bookstore run by the glossy monthly that was in operation over the holidays.
A Tootsies representative said owner Mickey Rosmarin was conferring with lawyers. A Highland Village rep said no meeting between the two sides had taken place.
"The Highland Village management team and Tootsies have not had a meeting in several years," she said. "All I know is the Highland Village side of it. They just want their space back."
Early Friday evening, a Tootsies spokesperson released this statement:
Tootsies is gearing up for its exciting move to West Ave., where it will expand from its current 15,000 square foot store to 35,000 square feet. Occupying an entire city block, Tootsies will boast 900 feet of storefront at the gateway to River Oaks, on the corner of Kirby and Westheimer. Until the move, which is slated for late January, it’s business as usual at this landmark women’s store. Tootsies is currently conducting the “TOOTSIES TAKES OFF MOVING SALE” at their present location at 4045 Westheimer.