CLINTON — The owner of an iconic Clinton store announced the business would close its doors this summer.
Paul’s Discount, 1940 Lincoln Way, was slated to close by July 31, Paul’s President and CEO Rob Cassidy said in an announcement released in April. Cassidy attributed the closure to an increase in operational costs and a shift in the market share as a growing number of consumers migrate to e-commerce sites.
“It has become increasingly difficult for an independent retailer to survive in this day and age where economy of scale is needed to cover increasing costs of operation,” he said.
Paul’s Discount was founded by Paul “Parker” Cassidy and Bob Cassidy in 1964, when they opened their first store on U.S. 30 in the city’s western edge. At the time it opened in November 1964, the store was the only one of its kind in the area.
U.S. 30 at the time was commonly known as the Miracle Mile, and had very little business located on it. Focusing on a no-frills way of doing business, the company became an anchor along that stretch of road, which soon saw the addition of an Arlen’s store; Kmart and Target stores would move into spots just up the hill on U.S. 30. Wal-Mart and Kohl’s later built down the hill, to the west of Paul’s. Target later would build a new store down the hill, as well.
Cassidy said it was his employees, as well as the customer base, that kept the store in business as long as it had been.
“We have operated in the Clinton market for more than 54 years with great success,” Cassidy said. “Much of this success is attributable to a dedicated team of employees, a loyal and passionate customer base and a great location. This loyal customer base provided us staying power in a market that saw fellow competitors such as Kmart, Shopko and Target close their doors.”
Paul’s also had a second location, which opened in 1981 in Iowa City when they purchased Ken’s Auto & Farm in 1981. The Iowa City store closed on July 14, 2018.
“The timing of the Iowa City closure was due to the expiration of a long-term lease,” Cassidy explained. “At the time it was our intent to try and keep the Clinton store going since it was the original location and the home office where our administrative team resides. Since then, many factors have challenged our bottom line and going forward we did not see the headwinds that we are currently facing today abating to the point that we could restore our profitability.”
He said the store over the past few years had been looking at options to keep the doors open.
“Trying to avoid a store closure because of the impact it would have on our employees, we engaged a well-known and experienced investment banking firm approximately three years ago to try and find a buyer for our business,” he said. “We had hoped to partner with an existing retailer that would allow us to gain operational scale and help us update our technology in order for us to compete in today’s marketplace. Unfortunately, there are more retailers closing stores than opening locations and we were unable to find a buyer.”
Wingate Sales Solutions, the longest-tenured store-closing consulting company in the U.S., was been hired to assist in closing the store. The sale began Thursday, April 25, and continued for about 13 weeks, wrapping up by the end of July.