Venerable martial-arts store Dach Imports to close in 2013.

Local martial-arts aficionados will have to look elsewhere for armament and weapons after the Summer Avenue institution Dach Imports closes its doors early next year.

Open at various locations since 1979, Dach Imports has been supplying the Mid-South with stun guns, karate robes, and everything in between for more than 30 years. Michelle Dach, owner of Dach Imports, said that she came to the United States after a chance meeting with her future husband, Harry.

"I met Harry in 1974, when I was working on a Navy base during the day and attending college classes at an American university at night," Dach said.

"Harry was actually supposed to be going to Korea, but on the way there his colonel told him to make a stop in Taiwan, and he just happened to come into where I was working that day. We married in 1975 and came to the United States."

After settling in Memphis, Dach realized her husband was spending a lot of time and money studying judo and other forms of martial arts.

"I started the business because he spent a lot of money on martial-arts supplies, and I knew I could get it cheaper than buying retail," Dach said.

"I started with a few items, and people began requesting more and more things. First, people started asking for protective wear, but later on they started asking for weapons. The requests were never-ending, and we became the largest martial-arts supply in the Mid-South."

Weapons and martial-arts uniforms might be the main attraction at Dach Imports, but the store is also home to hundreds of authentic martial-arts films, something that attracts those who'd rather watch violence on the screen instead of acting it out.

"All of these movies are uncut and unedited. No one wants to hear John Wayne talk in their local dialect. These movies are the same way," Dach said.

After being housed in a few different locations, including Kirby Woods Mall, the store moved to Summer Avenue in the mid-1990s, where it remains open, at least for the time being. After suffering a serious medical issue over the summer, and with only one other employee on staff, Dach reluctantly realized it was time to close the store.

"For 33 years I have been devoted to this company. I love this business, and I have a passion for it," Dach said.

"The Back Yard Burger next door just closed one day and didn't tell their employees or their customers. We don't want to be like that. We want to give everyone a chance to say goodbye, because we love our customers."

And while the mothers of young men (Dach Imports' best customers) might be relieved that brass knuckles, samurai swords, and stun guns won't be so readily available, Dach said she still plans on maintaining an online store, focusing on the items she designs herself.

"I design a very good karate and [mixed-martial-arts] uniform. The uniform is the same style for 5,000 years, but I made it a little better by making the material extra thick," Dach said.

Tentatively, Dach Imports will be open through the spring of 2013, with a liquidation sale starting in December.

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