Lights dim at Electric Chair

A familiar shop on downtown Huntington Beach's Main Street is being evicted from its location because it can longer make the rent.

Electric Chair, a store which sells punk-rock, rockabilly, alternative and pin-up girl attire and accessories, will close its doors at 410 Main St. for good Christmas Eve.

The business was hit hard by the economic downturn in 2008, co-owner Mohammed "Moe" Memon said.

"We're just scrambling and trying to figure things out," Memon said. "We have been pretty financially devastated from this whole thing."

Abdul Memon, Mohammed Memon's father, first took over Electric Chair in 1993. Today, Mohammed Memon and his sister, Aisha Memon, co-own and manage the store with their 72-year-old father. The family hopes to move the store to another Huntington Beach location but doesn't know if that's possible yet.

"We are hoping we will be able to find something," said Mohammed Memon, who didn't elaborate on how much the rent is, but said the electric bill comes in at $1,000 a month. "We are putting it out to the community; we can use all the help people can give us."

Downtown Huntington Beach Business Improvement District Manager Susan Welfringer said she hopes Electric Chair can find a different home that isn't far away.

"I hope that they're not gone for good, that they can find a way to still be a part of the downtown area," Welfringer said. "It is hard to lose somebody like the Electric Chair that's been there for 30 years."

Whatever happens to Electric Chair, Welfringer said it will be remembered as a cherished, iconic part of the community that hosted a number of events to the community.

"That will be missed, and they'll be remembered as a great part of the community," Welfringer said.

About eight months ago Electric Chair began hosting free, all-age concerts at its location after-hours, hoping the events would draw in more customers, but never saw a return.

"We had a great response and hoped it would bring customers in and turn things around, but it never generated revenue," Mohammed Memon said.

The business took off at a different location as Sunline Surfboards in 1980. Three years later, it became Electric Chair and opened at 127 Main St. before moving a few blocks down to 410 Main St. in 1990. Electric Chair expanded with two more shops and an increased online presence, but closed the Long Beach and Riverside locations in 1990 and earlier this year, respectively, and struggled to return to the "glory days."

"The peak was actually in 2005, and from there it's been kind of declining," Mohammed Memon said. "The end of 2008 is just when things really became difficult. The last two years have just been incredibly hard."

Electric Chair posted the news of its closure on its Facebook page Dec. 2, which drew 52 comments from its fan base.

"Wow. What a trip. Now [Huntington Beach] will really not look or ever be the same," one fan commented on Electric Chair's post.

In 2005, Electric Chair was making 200 sales a day, but now it's about 30 to 40 per day with foot traffic not being what it used to, Mohammed Memon said.

"We can't pay the rent, it's just too expensive," Memon said. "It's sad because we love everything about this place."

Twitter: @TCNShortall

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