(Shenandoah) -- Downtown Shenandoah is losing one of its mainstay businesses.
After 69 years of business, Howard Clothing and Sporting Goods is closing its doors November 25th. Jim and Gladys Howard founded the store back in 1951. Jim's son Denny and his wife Darlene have operated the retailer the last 44 years. Denny Howard tells KMA News age was the main factor in the decision to close the store.
"I'm 73, my wife will be 70 this month," said Howard. "So, we decided it's about time. Then, when we were considering this, we were made an offer on our building. So, we thought this would be a good time to get out of the business, while we still had our health."
Howard adds no one in his family wants to take over the store. He says store shutdowns due to COVID-19 this spring made the situation extra difficult.
"It's been very tough," he said. "I mean, we were closed for seven weeks. We had most of our baseball, softball equipment already in. Luckily, they did play baseball and softball--it was just at the high school level. So, we didn't sell a lot of equipment that we normally would, so we got stuck with a lot of it. We hope to liquidate it shortly."
Then, there's the challenge of competing against online companies in recent years.
"The online sales have obviously skyrocketed," said Howard. "It's tough to compete with that, and where they have free shipping nowadays, too. Then, even some of our vendors are competing against us by having their own stores. Then, they have access to all the inventory that we don't have access to. It's pretty tough when you're competing against your own vendors."
Howard says he and Darlene expressed mixed emotions over the decision. The store's closing leaves Shenandoah without a clothing or sporting goods store. But, the Howards thank the community and the entire region for their support for nearly seven decades.
"Southwest Iowa, northwest Missouri and the city of Shenandoah have been very, very good to us," said Denny. "Enabled us to live in this town, and run the business, and raise the kids in a small town setting. Area schools have also been very good to us. We've been very fortunate over the years."
Upon retirement, Denny and Darlene hope to travel once the coronavirus pandemic eases. Denny, himself, plans on golfing a lot. A retirement sale to liquidate the store's entire merchandise begins October 15th.