Fabric store

Longtime fabric store in Normal Heights Landmark set to close – NBC 7 San Diego

A longtime fabric store inside a Normal Heights landmark is planning to close shop and, for now, the fate of the building – and its famous marquee – is unknown.

Discount Fabrics, located at 3325 Adams Ave., is currently liquidating its inventory as it prepares to leave the neighborhood in the coming months.

The store is inside a historic building that originally housed the Carteri Theater, which was built in 1923 by San Diego architect Louis J. Gill for developer and owner BJ Carteri.

Along with the theater, Carteri developed the block of quirky historic commercial structures in the community, from 33rd to Felton Street, according to Scott Kessler, executive director of the Adams Avenue Business Association (AABA).

The Carteri Theater opened on December 3, 1924. The AABA said Carteri sold the theater in 1936, after which it was renamed the Adams Avenue Theater. Five years later it was sold again, this time to the Fox Theater Group.

At this time, the Spanish Revival/Mediterranean Theater was remodeled with an art deco facade and terrazzo tile foyer. The Fox Theater Group operated the theater until 1961.

Kessler said that in the 1980s, among other uses, the building served as a concert hall booked by Tim Mays before Mays founded and owned the Casbah.

In the late 1980s a fabric store moved in and about 15 years ago Discount Fabrics, owned by Michael Recht, took over.

Now more change is looming.

Recht told NBC 7 that his business has been in decline for several years.

“The fabric business, in general, is down,” he explained. “People don’t sew as much anymore.”

So Recht said he decided to cut his losses and close Discount Fabrics. He has no intention of opening the shop elsewhere.

“It’s not worth it, at this point,” he added.

Over the years, Recht has had a front row seat to the growth of the Normal Heights business district. The fabric industry, however, was simply not part of this uprising.

Still, he appreciated his store’s place in the heart of the community – and the famous marquee that still adorns the building’s facade.

“It’s really cool, it’s all lit up at night,” Recht said.

AABA’s Craig Burns said Discount Fabrics has been kind enough to share the marquee over the years. The marquee is often used to promote local festivals and events, such as the Adams Avenue street fair.

Now, as Discount Fabrics prepares to close its doors, Recht is using the marquee to promote its big sale. It reads: “DISCOUNT FABRICS ARE CLOSING. CLEARANCE SALE. EVERYTHING MUST GO.”

Laughing, Recht told NBC 7 it was his first time using the marquee for himself. It is fortunate that the community has been able to use it over the years.

While the Fabric Store leaves Normal Heights, the Carteri Theater marquee and building will remain in place.

Kessler said he’s been in touch with owner Dean Goldman about the site’s future.

Kessler said it would likely take Discount Fabrics three to five months to liquidate its inventory. At the moment there are no plans to sell the building, but the owner will probably rent it out.

And, it seems the residents of Normal Heights are already eagerly awaiting something new to sprout there.

The AABA posted a Facebook post this week asking residents what kind of new business they would like to see open in the historic building.

The answers cover everything from a concert hall and burlesque bar to a beer hall, bowling alley or performance venue. Many residents would like to see the building become a theater again.

“To see this restored building would be a great addition to our community,” Burns added.