More than four decades after opening, Aleta’s Bras & Lingerie is closing

WICHITA — Aleta Williams has a simple explanation of why, after more than four decades in business, she’s closing her Aleta’s Bras & Lingerie shop.

“When you’re almost 81, it’s time to go, don’t you think?”

Her customers beg to differ.

“That’s what I hear every day when they walk through the front door: ‘What am I going to do without you?’”

The shop, which is at the southeast corner of Central and Edgemoor, has faithful customers worldwide. Williams is devoted to them, too.

“You’re doing such a service for women,” she says. She’s especially happy to help women who have had mastectomies.

“If I could just fit bras and help my customers, if that’s all I had to do … I’d stay here, and I’d fall over dead,” she says of happily staying on till she dies.

Williams hates paperwork, though, and she’s had enough.

She never wanted to be in the business in the first place.

Williams’ late husband, Hal, approached her with the idea in about 1970 after reading a Parade story about a couple who sold bras.

“We’re going in the bra business,” he told his wife.

“I fought him tooth and nail,” Williams says.

“Now you don’t expect me to go out and put women in bras and girdles?” she said to him.

“He saw the business angle of the bra business,” Williams says.

She’s tried selling the business, but a couple of potential deals didn’t work out.

“I’d love to sell it to someone that I could train to sell bras.”

She says there’s no one offering the services she does in Wichita.

“As far as I’m concerned, I don’t have competition.”

Williams expects to close at the end of the year.

“It’s going to depend on how this merchandise moves,” she says. “If we feel like we need to stay open a little longer, we may, but by the end of January we’ll be gone.”

For the women who worry they can’t buy a bra without help from Williams, she advises, “Just do what I taught you.”

Through the years, she found she has a real knack for helping people.

“I just love it. I can’t tell you why. I think the Lord led me here and wanted me to do it.”

She’s willing to give Hal a little credit, too.

“He was a lot smarter than I give him credit for being.”