LOWELL - Linda Smith and her mother-in-law, Velma Smith, browsed through
several glass shelves of knickknacks and vases Friday afternoon.
The Lowell residents were taking advantage of the G.L. Perry store's closing
sale. The store, which opened in May 1994, will close Jan. 31.
"We liked this store," Linda Smith said. "We need something like this
here. There's nowhere to hang out in Lowell. If you need a card, you can just
run in, and they have pretty gifts here."
"We don't have anything like a dime store," said Velma Smith, who has lived
in Lowell more than 50 years.
"They're still needed, because you don't want to go all the way to Kmart
sometimes," Linda Smith said.
But G.L. Perry's closing doesn't mean residents will have to do heavy-duty
traveling for daily necessities.
Richard Stewart, president of G.L. Perry stores out of Elkhart, said the
Lowell store and seven other Perry stores have been bought by Duckwall-Alco
Stores, a discount department store based in Abilene, Kan.
Duckwall-Alco, which has been in business since 1901, operates 152 other
discount stores in the central United States.
Just as variety store giant F.W. Woolworth decided to close the last of its
stores earlier this year, the move is yet another sign of the end of the
variety store era, Stewart said.
"I believe we are the last variety store in the state of Indiana," said
Stewart, who has been with Perry for 44 years.
"Variety stores have been having a lot of problems for a long, long time,"
he said. "They were great in their day, but how can a 20,000-square-foot store
keep up with a 200,000-square-foot superstore?"
The Lowell Perry store opened in May 1994, replacing a Harvey Mart dime
Assistant managers Mary Ann Skaggs and Charlotte Snell and manager Pam
Sampson have been with Perry since then.
"We're very disappointed it's closing, but at least there will be another
store here," Sampson said.
Alco is scheduled to open in May, after renovations to the building. About
25 openings will be filled primarily from the Lowell area, according to Jim
Schoenbeck, vice president of store operations.