By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Nov 18, 2016 at 6:31 PM

In a news release tonight, George Watts & Son Inc. and The Watts Tea Shop announced that it will close its Downtown Milwaukee brick and mortar locations at 761 N. Jefferson St. on Dec. 31.  The iconic Milwaukee retailer will continue to operate online.

The company, established in 1870, will continue to offer the specialty goods that were hallmarks of the brand for more than 140 years. 

"The decision to close the store and restaurant were difficult but necessary steps in the evolution of our company," Sam Watts, CEO of George Watts & Son, Inc., said in a press release. "While the retail operations have performed well, the opportunities for company wide growth and increased profitability are founded in our hard assets and the maximization of our other real estate endeavors. The elimination of our brick and mortar operations was a necessary next step and is in direct response to the way consumers are shopping and the way the new economy is transitioning."

George Watts & Son Inc. and The Watts Tea Shop will remain open, with normal operating hours, until after Christmas.  The building and other holdings will continue to operate under the Watts Family name and umbrella. New tenants were not announced.

"We would like to thank the loyal customers who have shopped with George Watts & Son Inc. over the years as well as our devoted store associates for their dedication and friendly customer service to this community," said Watts. "We look at this as an opportunity to continue to grow and continue to positively impact the community and the City of Milwaukee."