“Shop Smart. Save Smart.” Since 2006, ALCO has provided Orange City with a large selection of apparel, food, home supplies and convenience items. However, the market for convenience stores is difficult to compete in, and in October, the national company filed for bankruptcy. On Nov. 21, the company launched the beginnings of the store-closing sales.
Orange City Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Mike Gaul was a frequent shopper there and said he is sorry to see it go.
“We had a discount store in the community,” he said in regard to the appeal of the store. “They had convenient store hours.”
According to an article in The N’West Iowa REVIEW, there is no set date for the official closing of the store. ALCO was founded 113 years ago and has 200 stores scattered among 23 states.
After ALCO closes, many are wondering what will fill the 25,000 square foot space the store currently occupies.
“We are working with the building owner and trying to recruit another retailer,” Gaul said.
Gaul said the city is interested in having another discount retailer in the space. An ideal retailer would be a Shopko town store, but the company has not shown interest in the space at the moment.
Mike Hofman, the Executive Director of the Orange City Chamber of Commerce, addressed another option if the large space does not attract enough interest.
“We may have to end up splitting it up into smaller-sized stores,” Hofman said.
With ALCO leaving and with Walmart so close in Sioux Center, there are concerns about keeping business in Orange City. However, both Hofman and Gaul are confident in Orange City’s ability to keep business in the town.
“We’re fortunate in Orange City,” Gaul said. “Our downtown is completely full.”
A Ben Franklin Craft Central opened up downtown recently that has attracted many customers. There are also stores like Fareway and Don’s for grocery needs.
“Even though ALCO is a loss, over the years, we have gained,” Gaul said.
The city does not want the building to be empty, but the economic growth in the downtown businesses balances it out.
ALCO’s closing was a surprise for some Northwestern students, but may not have a significant impact.
Sisters Cayla and Abbey Slattery did not consider ALCO a valid option for buying food and supplies.
“No one really goes to ALCO,” Abbey said. “I’m not really sure what they sell there.”
“Walmart is so much bigger,” Cayla added.
Despite ALCO’s mission to provide reasonably-priced items, students have found their prices are far more expensive than Walmart. Mackenzie Phillips found it difficult to find prices on certain items, especially the discounted products.
Phillips chooses Don’s Food Center over ALCO and will travel to Walmart in Sioux Center for school supplies such as notebooks.
“I like to have a lot (of notebooks) on hand,” Phillips explained. “Walmart has the cheapest.”
ALCO has been in the community for nine years. Although students have managed just fine with Walmart and other grocery stores, Orange City is eager to find another retailer to fill the empty space.