"I felt very sad when I heard the news today," said Los Feliz resident Dorothea Cenname, who has been coming to the store for 37 years. "Absolutely devastated. . . . I love the ambience of the store . . . and I love the clothes. It's very warm and inviting . . . and it reminds a little bit of London, of Harrod's," she said in the lilting accent of her native Wales.
Rozina Burfford, 80, has eaten lunch in Bullocks Wilshire's fifth-floor tearoom almost every week for the last 25 or so years. Most times these days the retired schoolteacher dines by herself. If it's Friday, she has the clam chowder. Mostly, though, she goes for the company of the store's clerks and employees, who all recognize her, she says.
"Everyone knows me in the store in every department," she said. "They are courteous. I like the atmosphere. It reminds me of the way things used to be."
One elderly customer said she used to shop regularly at the store, but decried the selection of merchandise since Macy took over.
"I frankly came down to spend money, but I couldn't find anything," said the woman, who declined to give her name. "I never saw such a bunch of junk in my life. I found one suit that I would buy, but it was $1,500 and I wasn't ready to pay that much."
That sentiment was echoed, albeit with less vehemence, by other customers.
Linda Dishman, executive director of the Los Angeles Conservancy, said the group is willing to help Caltech find a new tenant. Caltech received the property as a donation in 1942. "This is a sad day because it's one of the most significant buildings in Los Angeles," she said.