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Historic Iowa general store set to close

By Staff | Jul 15, 2011

CONRAD – Janice Juchems and Julie McNair have been proud to carry on the legacy of the Conrad General Store, but their time leading the legendary business is soon coming to an end.

Both women, who are co-owners of the store, have decided to go in a different direction with their careers and have sold the historic downtown Conrad building built in 1894.

“It’s not been an easy decision,” McNair said.

Both women grew up in Conrad and remember visiting the store’s famed candy case, which is still being used. The store has been a one-stop shop in Conrad since it was opened by the Stark Brothers in 1894. For 70 years, the store was owned by the Thorman family and known as Thormans.

“This whole business and building holds a great deal of sentimentality,” Juchems said.

Juchems bought into a partnership 19 years ago and McNair came on 12 years ago. Juchems said to become an owner of the store she admired as a child has been a dream. She loves it when people come into the store for the first time and it brings back memories of their past as well.

“To actually see them look around has been a thrill,” Juchems said.

She has also appreciated the teamwork other businesses downtown have had through the years. Restaurant business gets sent their way and they reciprocate it.

“In a small town you have to work together,” Juchems said.

The store in the past several years has specialized in quilt and sewing fabric but also has supplied cards, candy, jewelry and antiques to the community. In these days of big box stores, Juchems said the general store was able to thrive by adapting.

“We’ve persevered because we’ve been inventive,” she said.

The official closing date is not known though it’s expected to be later in the summer. The pair will liquidate the inventory in the business and right now have everything at 40 percent off.

It is unclear the direction the new owners will take with the 117-year-old building, which has a prime location on the corner of Main and Center streets.

“You feel like you are letting down the community, but it’s time,” McNair said.

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