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Alco shoppers deal with store closing

Staff writer

While Linda Mish raised a family, she shopped at the Hillsboro Alco regularly. Now that her children are grown, she does not visit the store as often but she still hunts for bargains.

“I wait for deals on canned vegetables,” Mish said outside the Alco on Tuesday.

Mish, along with other shoppers flocking to the Hillsboro Alco during its liquidation sale, will soon have to find another store to patronize. After 20 years, the Hillsboro store, along with 197 other Alco Discount Stores in 23 states, is closing.

After Alco closes, Mish plans to shop at the Dollar General Store, and so does Jenessa Hlad, a student at Tabor College.

“I buy necessities,” said Hlad, while exiting Alco carrying a jug of cranberry juice.

For Hlad, the shuttering of Alco is not a big deal.

“I heard they are building a new Walmart,” Hlad said. “That’ll be nice.”

The 12,000-square-foot Walmart Neighborhood Market is expected to open in the spring at 605 Orchard Drive. Using a “Site to Store” service, shoppers can also purchase items online that are delivered to the store in Hillsboro.

Although Alco’s closing and Walmart’s arrival are unrelated, Hillsboro’s economic development director Clint Seibel called the timing “fortuitous.”

“We don’t really know whether or not Walmart will offer the same kinds of merchandise that Alco has, so time will tell how things pan out,” Seibel said. “Everybody has really enjoyed having Alco here. A lot of people supported it, and they’re disappointed.”

U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Dallas on Friday approved a third-party company to conduct Alco’s “Going out of Business” sale, with more than $260 million of inventory at the 198 stores to be liquidated. Alco store manager Robert Berens declined comment. Gary Robinson of SB Capital Group of Great Neck, New York did not return a phone call seeking comment.

“It’s sad,” Seibel said. “You don’t like seeing any of your stores close, but we don’t know what’s around the corner either. We have to keep a positive attitude about it and do the best we can here.”

Terry Jones, Marion’s economic development director, said Alco’s closing would affect county residents beyond Hillsboro.

“In today’s day and age, in our county, we’re all in this together,” Jones said. “If something hurts Hillsboro, if something leaves Hillsboro, it’s going to affect Marion and vice versa.”

A Marion resident purchasing an item in Hillsboro benefits the county whereas buying that same item in Newton is revenue lost for Marion County, Jones said.

“People are intelligent about how keeping their money local is a good thing,” Jones said.

Myron Schmidt of Goessel has been shopping at Alco ever since it opened. He usually buys clothes at Alco, and he plans to shop at the Walmart Supercenter in Newton until the new Walmart opens in Hillsboro, he said.

“Whenever I come to Hillsboro I like to shop here,” Schmidt said. “It’ll be a loss for the community.”

Last modified Nov. 27, 2014

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