The mannequins that had always been displayed there in holiday finery or seasonal shades now stand naked behind giant yellow and orange signs announcing the women's apparel store is going out of business.
Owner Evelyn Price said that while the store, located at 604 N. Elm, has had "a wonderful 53 years," it's time for her to retire. Price said traveling and visiting with her children are on her to-do list.
"I'm retiring to be with my family," she said. "I'm sure that every day will be different. I have many interests I plan to pursue."
A line formed outside the store Wednesday as the first group of longtime customers waited for the store to open at 10 a.m. After a three-day invitation-only sale, the store will open to the public on Saturday. Everything is marked down for sale, including the fixtures.
There was no mad rush when the doors opened - everyone had to stop and hug Price and have a few words. Colleen Brown, who has shopped at The Fashion Bar for about 40 years, brought roses and tears.
"She's such a wonderful person," Brown said as she tried to fight the urge to cry. "This is a terrible loss to the community."
Community is a good way to describe the store. Customers caught up with each other and the staff knew everyone by name. As Myrtle Oxendine, a customer for over 20 years, said, "Even if I didn't shop I could come and talk."
"I don't know how many people were crying," said Price, who has been known to send cakes and other goodies she has made to downtown merchants on nothing more than a whim. "It's very emotional and touching. It shows how much they care."
Price said much of the store's "great success story" was because of her employees, which usually numbers about 15.
"I've been fortunate to have smart, dedicated and energetic employees throughout the years," Price said.
Lisa Maxwell, who has worked at The Fashion Bar for about two years, said the store's practice has always been to be "hands on with the customer and treat them like a lady."
"I'm very happy for Mrs. Price," Maxwell said. "She's had her time to shine. In my heart, she will always be Ms. Downtown. It's been a privilege and an honor to work for her, one of the finest people ever."
Seamstress Gerotha Cox has been at the store 33 years, the longest of any employee. She started out as a sales clerk and worked her way up to seamstress about 15 years ago.
"It's been a good job," Cox said. "I enjoyed working with all my co-workers. But all things change and you accept it as it comes. She's been a wonderful boss lady and friend to all of us. We'll all survive."
The Fashion Bar has been a family tradition for some. Price said she has sold to the great-grandchildren of women who were her customers in 1952. A few mothers and daughters shopped together Wednesday.
"My mom began shopping here in her younger years, pretty much all her life," said Julia Kinlaw. "I'm sad. She's a Lumberton tradition. I hate to see it close."
Many customers were dressed in clothes they bought at the store, like Ruth Lupo of Lake View, S.C., who has shopped at the store for about 30 years.
"I found just what I needed for all my dress-up activities and teaching school," Lupo said.
As well as losing a place to shop, downtown Lumberton is losing one of its biggest supporters, though Price said she'll still be involved in downtown activities.
"Mrs. Price has always been, probably one of the main features of our downtown association," said Wesley Washington of Washington's Mens Store. "She's one of the people that volunteers, that you can always count on. She's always been a big help to anything going on in the downtown area and one of our biggest advocates."
The Fashion Bar is the latest store to close in the downtown area. Lisa's Bootery is expected to close next month after 43 years in downtown Lumberton. The Robesonian newspaper, another downtown mainstay, is expected to move to Roberts Avenue later this year.
But Price is optimistic about downtown's future.
"I really feel like downtown will come back eventually," she said. "When the courthouse is completed and the parking deck is built, downtown will come back."
Sitting in her office during a quick break from the constant greetings and well-wishes from customers, Price said she was happy to see everyone come out for the store.
"I always had a great, loyal clientele," she said. "It's wonderful seeing them and knowing they're here to support me in closing as well as the years I was in business."
Price said the store will stay open until everything is sold, but she doesn't think that will take long, as she's "offering classic clothes at liquidation prices."
The store, normally open Mondays through Saturdays, will add Sunday as an opening day until it closes. Gift cards and store credit will expire on May 8.