Even today, in 2019, there are still local retailers. But as of late last month there is one less. Paul’s Discount, a small two-store chain in Iowa, finally closed the end of July. It wasn’t a fancy place, but it was an honest place. And their customers tended to be remarkably loyal. But times change, people change, profits dwindle despite busy stores. And progress, for better or worse, slows for no one.
I remember, years ago, my dad taking me to the Iowa City store after my annual check up at University Hospital. Years later, circa 1997-98 when I started driving myself around, I’d go up to Clinton in my ’91 Volvo 940SE, just to go for a ride, and check out the store there. Only those who remember being recently licensed to drive may understand why it was a thrill to drive thirty miles to a small city north of home base, with nothing much more than a few stores, a small downtown, a marina and GM and Lincoln-Mercury dealerships. It was a nice drive, along the river road from Davenport, via LeClaire and Princeton.
For those of you in the Midwest, it was kind of like Farm and Fleet, only in a smaller size. They had everything, from feed and seed to model kits, snacks and tools. I didn’t buy things every time I visited, but I always checked out the Clinton and Iowa City stores if I happened to be in town for the day. I remember seeing their semi trucks semi-regularly when driving on Interstate 80.
Probably the coolest thing I got there was 12-14 years ago, when they had a 1/18 scale ’68 AMC AMX in pink, a replica of the one given to Playboy’s Playmate of the Year in 1968. It’s still sitting in a display case in my dining room (of COURSE I have model cars in my dining room, doesn’t everyone?), along with a bunch of other model cars.
Back in June I was in Iowa City for the monthly cruise nite at the mall, and while heading out to the I-380 bypass, noticed the Paul’s on Highway 6 was gone. Whoa, when did that happen? Well, turns out it happened in summer of 2018. I was kind of surprised. I’m usually in IC several times a year in summer for car shows and visiting relatives. Had it really been that long? Apparently so.
So the next time I went up to the lake, I stopped in Clinton on the way up to see if the other store was still there. It was, but it was closing. A family affair from day one back in 1964, the owners were finally winding things down.
Retail has gotten ever more cutthroat, and with online shopping more and more people are ordering from the comfort of their home. I don’t get why being a shut-in is the latest thing many are aspiring to, but I digress.
Anyway, the store was getting a little threadbare at the time, but there was still a lot of stuff. I did snag this little ’60s Porsche 911 model, because what the heck.
And then, on Friday, 7/19, I was on my way up to the lake, again, when I decided that Big Rhonda, my 2004 Town Car, and myself, should stop off for one last goodbye. I was looking for water shoes, so I could get into the lake without slipping on the algae-covered rocks in my bare feet. Sadly they didn’t have any. I got a pair from the Clinton Walmart instead. Read into that whatever you will. But I walked the entire store, and took the pictures you see before you.
A little souvenir of a little store I used to like, now gone. I wasn’t exactly a regular customer, as there never was a store in the Quad Cities, but I enjoyed checking the place out when I could. All the best to the folks who worked there. I hope they all land on their feet.