Operating its largest store to date in a 5,500-square-foot space on Post Road East did not prove to be a good fit for J. McLaughlin.

After grappling with the size of the building for almost two years, the national clothing retailer plans to close its store at 1026 Post Road E. by early August, according to Jay McLaughlin, the business's co-founder and chief merchandising officer.

"We liked the way the space was exposed to the Post Road," McLaughlin said. "And we said, `It doesn't really fit our footprint, but wouldn't it be nice if we tried something a little different.' But we couldn't create, within the structure of our business, extensively more diverse product made by J. McLaughlin that could fill that store. We couldn't manufacture enough of it uniquely to keep that store and satisfy the customer."

When it opened in November 2010, McLaughlin said he envisioned the 5,500-square-foot Westport store as a "prototype." In contrast, the average J. McLaughlin outlet totals only about 1,500 square feet.

"We thought this would provide us with a opportunity to create a store with a little theater around it," McLaughlin said. "We'd have different departments, and we'd make it just a generally more pleasant experience to shop. That was our goal."

McLaughlin declined to comment on the net income of the Westport store.

Before the opening of its Post Road East establishment, J. McLaughlin had operated a store on Main Street for about 25 years until that outlet closed in 2008.

About 10 employees worked in the Westport store. They have been re-assigned to the J. McLaughlin stores in New Canaan and Greenwich or taken positions outside the company, McLaughlin said.

A clause in J. McLaughlin's lease at 1026 Post Road E. allowed it to exit the property during the first two years of its tenancy, McLaughlin said.

The McLaughlin brothers opened their first store on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in 1977. J. McLaughlin now has about 60 stores nationwide.

McLaughlin did not rule out a return to Westport or opening a store in Fairfield.

"We love the Westport customers," he added. "It's not a negative situation. If you're a good retailer, you always want to experiment and try things."

pschott@bcnnew.com; 203-255-4561, ext. 118; twitter.com/paulschott