Downtown's Props Lifestyle Gallery to close

Props Lifestyle Gallery, a boutique near Natasha's Bistro and Bar downtown and run by one of the bistro's owners, is closing in May.

Natasha Williams, manager and one of the three owners of the boutique, said she decided to close Props to focus full-time on the Balagula Theatre company she helped start in 2007.

"In this case, it's a good thing," she said of the closing.

The store has a rich history, having started operation in 1991 on Southland Drive. It was called Traveler's Trunk for a short time, but the name didn't take, she said, and it became the boutique of Natasha's Café and Boutique.

When Natasha's moved downtown in 2001, the boutique remained part of the café, of which Williams is one of four owners.

In 2008, the boutique moved out of the café and down the street to Esplanade and Main Street and was renamed Props.

The name came from the love of theater shared by Williams and her theater co-director Ryan Case.

"We named it Props because if all the world is a stage and all men and women are merely actors, then all the things are merely props," she said, reciting portions of the classic Shakespeare line.

The decision to close came because the store's lease was up for renewal, Williams said.

"It's really not the result of the economy," she said. "We were doing fine ... it could be better, we knew more active times and better times, but it was making it as a business."

She said, instead, it was her desire to focus full-time on Balagula, which has seen a full season now and has gained acclaim, that compelled the closing.

"It's a serious theater that really takes all our time," she said.

The decision to close Props won't affect the the online company Natasha's Cafe, which operates at "These are all separate companies," she said.

Plans are for Props to close May 22. The store will be open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, and discounts will progress from 30 percent to 90 percent until merchandise is sold out.