Longtime Charles City Clothing Store Closing Its Doors

April 17, 2019 10:45 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- After 130 years in business, 96 of which were spent on Main Street in Charles City, family-run clothing store Lidd and Cordray will be closing its doors.

The store has roots going back to 1889 when it opened as a tailor shop in western Iowa. After moving to southwestern Iowa in 1906, the store ended up in Charles City in 1923.


Current owner Mike Lidd grew up working in the store when his father owned it, stocking shelves and cleaning while he was in middle school. After leaving Iowa for a few years after high school, he got an opportunity to become the fourth generation of his family to stand behind the counter.

"I was working for a department store in Minneapolis and it was just an opportunity that was too good to pass up," Lidd recalled of buying the store from his dad in 1983.

After decades in retail, though, Lidd knew his time was coming to an end. With his daughters working in other industries and living hours away, he knew he would become the last generation of Lidds to serve his hometown.

"I had a good friend tell me a couple of years ago that when it's time to retire, you'll know it," he said. "I don't know if there's a true definition for it, but it was time. I've been in retail for 41 years and that's a lot of weekends."

Last week, Lidd made the news official, leaving longtime customers like James Schumburg wondering what's next.

"There are very, very few things that I have in my wardrobe that did not come from Lidd Clothing," Schumburg said, adding he's unsure where he will shop now after buying clothing from Lidd nearly exclusively for the past 50 years.

It's a bittersweet moment for Lidd, the latest baby boomer business owner in the region to close up shop upon retiring. Earlier this month and across the Minnesota/Iowa state line, the Branding Iron Supper Club in Preston reopened after a two-month hiatus when its former owners closed the doors. In November 2017, Fleet Farm Supply in Albert Lea, a second-generation family-run hardware store, announced it too was closing after 61 years.

Despite a shifting retail landscape, Lidd still sees a need for brick-and-mortar stores in communities like Charles City, saying many customers still prefer to inspect and try on clothing prior to purchasing. Online shopping and easier commutes to larger cities have made running a family business more challenging, though, he added.

"When I grew up there were four mens' stores in Charles City. When I moved back, there were three. I've been the only one since 1987 but I have more competition today than I did back when there were three stores here," he said.

Schumburg said he'll most miss the friendly face behind the counter and the service he called top-notch.

"(I'll miss) the banter that I get from Mike and the times that you come in here and Mike says 'Hi, Jim,' and the attention to detail on clothes that they turn out, to fit you and fit you properly," he said.

Lidd agrees.

"Probably the biggest thing I'll miss is the day-to-day interaction with people," he said. "You know, it's fun waiting on people, helping them out."

The store will remain open until the remaining clothing is sold. As of now, Lidd said he does not have a plan for what will happen to the building.


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