A bittersweet ending for Mr. Charles in State College

bmilazzo@centredaily.comApril 4, 2014 

It’s a bittersweet ending for Charlene Rosen.

The owner of Mr. Charles Shop, the downtown State College women’s clothing store, will close the doors on a business opened by her parents 74 years ago.

“It’s a very tender time, but yet I feel very comfortable in the decision,” Rosen said, who plans to enhance her trunk sale shows that take her around the Northeast. “It’s time for me to slow down a little and move onto other things.”

On May 31, the store at 228 E. College Ave. will close for good.

Rosen, who lives in New York City but makes frequent trips to State College, said the store was opened in 1940 by her father and mother, Charles and Mary Louise Petnick, who originally created it as a men’s fashion store on Allen Street.

“Then all the men went to war, and there were no more men left. So with few women’s items, it switched roles,” Rosen said. “I remember all Daddy had were a pair of womens’ nylons, but my mother would go to New York for buying trips and bring back all these incredible items.”

When the inventory switch was made, the business moved to another location on Allen Street. At one time, there were three Mr. Charles stores, but eventually they were consolidated into the current East College Avenue location, which opened in 1970.

Her brother, Nick Petnick, ran the store from 1975 to 1994, and the business was passed to Rosen, she said.

“It catered to the daughter, mother and grandmother,” Rosen said. “That was kind of the mission, and it brought great memories along with it.”

Even after about 50 years, Rosen still sees repeat customers, but she said never will forget the time Cher visited her store in 1999.

“Cher sent her assistant in to buy some clothes,” Rosen said. “She took out the credit card to pay, and it said ‘Cher’ on it. I remember we told her she couldn’t use someone else’s card, and that the card owner had to come in.”

Cher came in with two bodyguards.

“She was the nicest woman and so attractive and physically fit, and she bought things for herself and her staff, and I just remember her being so sweet,” Rosen said. “Even her bodyguards were just the nicest people.”

When word got out that Cher patronized the store, Rosen said some community members went crazy.

“People would come in asking to buy the same sweater Cher bought,” Rosen said with a laugh. “This place has a lot of good memories, and this was definitely one of them.”

Items not sold by closing date will be used in Rosen’s trunk shows.

“Life is a balance, and it’s upsetting, but it’s the right thing, so I can do more of what I can with other things in my life,” Rosen said.

Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @M11azzo.

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