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The Last Windrow: A short history of a 'real' small business

I've done a lot of things in my life. What I am about to write took 30 years, the bulk of the air I have breathed. It was a good span.

None of us know when we graduate from high school what the future might bring. Although the speakers at our graduations advise us to be studious, gregarious and future thinking, we all make our own way no matter what.

Somehow my path has been crooked and frustrating and knowledge inducing. I've put together livestock trailers, rolled cement, hauled minnows, sold fishing tackle and represented others who have invested in their respective communities. Overall, it has been a good trip.

This week marks the end of another era in my and my family's life. We have sold the store. A business. A livelihood.

My wife and I purchased a small-town department store in 1978. It had been owned and operated by her parents since the end of World War II, when originally it was an Army/Navy surplus store. Through the years her parents had coaxed a living from this business, even though one day's sales at one date collected only the money from one pair of socks. Surely the low point in their career.

In 1978, my wife and I purchased the store from her parents to give them an excuse to retire and for us a reason to strike out on our own. And, it was a good choice. For many years the store prospered and we were able to make a decent living out of it. The community seemed to accept me, an out-of-town individual, along with my wife, a native-born daughter of the community.

There were many years of wonderful business and we ingrained ourselves into the community. Loving the place you live in and to be able to derive a living out a business creates a certain amount of loyalty of that community, or, at least, it should do those feelings. You are only as good as the community in which you live.

This week we are closing that portion of our lives. The building that has been in our family for over 70 years has been sold and soon a new, younger couple will inhabit the walls. They have their own visions of the future, and that is good.

And so, it is with some sadness that we leave this place that has been home for over 70 years to one family. The building has served its purpose, and I believe we have served ours. We will never forget our loyal customers and maybe even those who have not been so loyal. We have really enjoyed most every minute. We are grateful.

So, those who feel somewhat somber about our leaving should know that new things happen every day and no one should feel a bit sympathetic for us or any other small-town business person when they choose to move on and give new life to Main Street.

We have been honored to have served as best we could.

See you next time. Okay?