The owners of Lamb’s Ears Ltd. plan to close up shop and “move on” with their lives

A longtime Mountain Brook retailer and Crestline Village fixture will close next month.

After 28 years in business, Lamb’s Ears Ltd. — a gift and home decor store at 70 Church Street — plans to permanently close on June 8, co-owner Elizabeth Gilmore Roberts said.

As of press time, the store plans to hold “retirement sales” in May and early June, Roberts said.

Roberts and her sister, Julie Gilmore Howell, bought the shop in 2011 and moved it to Crestline from Cahaba Heights.

Both women have expressed a desire to close Lamb’s Ears Ltd. and to have more time to spend with their family and pursue other interests.

“Julie and I are just at a point where we want to move on with our lives,” Roberts said.

“We’re going in a different direction,” Howell added.

They won’t sit idle in retirement, Roberts said.

“None of us want to sit still, so we’ll be busy with other things,” she said.

Roberts sells her Market 46 Granola at Pepper Place and Alabama Goods and has adult children she spends time with.

Howell got his real estate license and has three grandchildren.

Howell and Roberts stressed that they were not closing due to the economic fallout from the pandemic, despite the challenges it posed for retailers.

“We are not a COVID fatality,” Howell said. “We go out on our own terms.”

“We’ve made it through COVID thanks to loyal customers,” Roberts added.

Many customers have been attracted to Lamb’s Ears Ltd. due to the unique nature of its products.

“We’ve always tried to carry things that not everyone has,” Roberts and Howell said in an email.

They were also successful in selling the wares of local artists.

“Our region is brimming with talent, and we enjoyed sharing their wares and telling their stories,” they said.

Since the store moved to Crestline in 2011, the women “have felt such a wonderful sense of community but also a responsibility to keep the bar high” set by the previous owners, they said.

“There’s joy and a sense of accomplishment when you go to the market and pick out items your customers love,” Roberts and Howell said.

The women told Village Living in 2019 — at the time of the store’s 25th anniversary — that their skills complemented each other.

Howell’s professional background is in business, while Roberts’ background is in accounting.

Roberts and Howell also emphasized customer service.

“We decided that we are first and foremost about serving the customer, getting them what they need, what they want, helping them find it,” Roberts said.

As they step out of the retail world, Roberts and Howell emphasize the importance of buying local.

“The world’s largest online ordering companies don’t pay local taxes, support our local schools or our philanthropic organizations,” they said.

The women said they had a mix of emotions about the store closing.

They are “sad in the sense that we will miss our customers who have become friends over the years,” Howell and Roberts said.

But there is also happiness.

“We all look forward to having time to spend with our adult children and grandchildren,” they said. “We know that wonderful times are in our future.”

“We’ve had a wonderful experience here, but it’s just the time in our lives to move on to something different,” Roberts said.

Laura J. Boyer