PORTLAND — Porteous Mitchell & Braun Co. Inc., whose Portland department store has anchored the downtown retail district for 84 years, will close next Jan. 31.
Porteous has six other locations, and company president Aretas Stearns said Tuesday the 85 people working in the downtown store should be able to find work elsewhere in the company.
The store, which sells mostly women’s fashions and household items, serves as a focal point for the Congress Street shopping district that stretches from Monument Square to Congress Square.
City officials and merchants said the closing would hinder efforts to revitalize the area, which has suffered from a decrease in foot traffic and an increase in vacant store fronts.
Stearns said Porteous officials had considered closing the Portland store in the mid-1980s but felt compelled to stay. In 1988 they poured $1 million into renovating the store, but sales have continued to decline each year by an average of more than 10 percent, he said.