By Jim Misunas
LARNED — Local residents provided positive feedback about the town’s business future in light of the likely loss of the town’s Alco store.
Local officials acknowledged the probable loss of the Alco store during a town hall meeting Tuesday at the Larned Community Center.
Lauren Long, Larned Chamber director and Pawnee Economic Development director, said she was impressed with the passion and knowledge of the citizens. She expected there might be some negative energy, but discovered a healthy environment.
“There was open and construction dialogue and it was good to hear the community’s voice,” she said. “The message I heard is people don’t want to see a local business landmark leave. But it was a good reminder that local citizens need to actively support their local businesses.”
Long said if Alco leaves, then local citizens need to shop locally to insure that stores are supported financially.
Long encouraged local residents to let their voice be heard to Alco officials in Texas.
Larned Mayor Bob Pivonka said citizens provided insightful feedback.
“People won’t hate to lose the store and no one likes to see it leave,” said Larned Mayor Bob Pivonka. “People see Alco as a local business with 80 years in the community. It would leave a hole in our retail community. But there are no easy answers.”
Several past employees said they’d worked at the Alco store, dating back to the 1940s.
Pivonka said the local lease owner was working on a month-to-month contract, which he didn’t consider to be a good sign.
“The situation has obviously been brewing,” he said.
On Oct. 17, the company’s public relations firm, Hagen and Associates, announced the Larned Alco would be closed, beginning with a planned markdown of inventory on Monday, Oct. 21, with an expected closure date of Jan. 26, 2014. Alco has been a part of the community for more than 80 years.
Pivonka said local officials have not been able to start a dialogue with corporate officials in Coppell, Texas.
“Now, we’re facing trying to deal with corporate officials in Texas,” he said. “I’m sure it’s frustrating for everyone connected with Alco. It’s tough on everyone.”
Pivonka said local officials will have to investigate whether another business could occupy the space at 620 Broadway. The store has been located at 620 Broadway since 1970.