Friday, November 21, 2014
Disaster for Small Town Shoppers
In a stunning surprise move, Alco announced today that they are closing their stores. In our community, the announcement came by way of placard men standing on street corners. I think it safe to say that virtually no one expected this.
Big deal, you who live in urban areas might be thinking, you who have such a plethora of shopping venues that it is hard for you to pick the one you will start with. Not that way here. "You have moved me to a place that doesn't even have a Walmart," BBBH wails betimes. However she has adapted to small-town living and she typically visits Alco several times per month. I mean, even I visit Alco, should I need a ream of copy paper or a can of coffee.
And now what is left? Drugstores and a Dollar General; and by the way, Dollar General and its ilk have been credited largely with the financial woes of Alco. Things change; and as I have been fond of pointing out for the past half-century, not all change is progress.
What about a half-century ago in this town? Shopping opportunities virtually unlimited, and most merchants clustered around the courthouse square. J.C. Penney, Danner's Five and Dime, Gambles, three jewelry stores, two shoe stores, a haberdashery, two women's boutiques, a great office supply store, a furniture store, hardware and drug stores, and a bunch a more, as we are fond of saying, all within steps of each other. All gone. Wait. Not quite. We still have a jewelry store and two hardware stores downtown, and just around the corner is, you guessed it, a Dollar General.
Yes, you might ask of me, but would you go back to that time in exchange for the conveniences of today? In a heartbeat! And I would be better off in ways too numerous to list. Well, for the most obvious thing, I'd be thirty years old again, wouldn't I?
Alco was founded by Alva Duckwall in Abilene, Kansas in 1901. Today they are closing all 198 of their stores spread across 23 states.