King’s Variety Store in John Day is closing.
A staple for local consumers, the store is shutting its doors along with 20 other locations in six states in the Northwest. The closures are attributed to the rise of large box stores like Wal-Mart and an increase in the accessibility of online shopping, according to a press release.
“The retail climate has radically changed in the past decade ... With the advent of both large-box retail stores and the internet, anyone with a computer can buy from millions of vendors around the world,” a press release from the company stated. “Brick and mortar stores need feet and faces to survive as we have salaries, rents and other costs to cover. Unfortunately for us that is not the current landscape.”
The John Day store will lay off 11 people, according to manager Michelle Conkey.
“I’ve been here for 15 years, it’s kind of my second home,” Conkey said.
Employees received the news Feb. 20. Conkey said she is devastated, but thankful to the community for their support over the years.
Along with the jobs lost, the community also is losing an outlet for goods like children’s clothing.
When Kailee Cherry first moved to Grant County, she found herself in King’s all the time, picking up the odds and ends needed to furnish a new house. Since then she’s shopped at King’s about once a week for gardening and crafting supplies and toys for her two children. She hopes for a similar store to take its place but, until then, plans to shop on sites like Amazon and Walmart.com to get school supplies and other items for her 2-year-old and 5-year-old she will no longer be able to buy locally.
Online retailers like Amazon are thriving in the current business climate. The international marketplace delivered over 2 billion items worldwide in 2016, according to an Amazon press release.
At King’s, prices are now being dropped in an effort to move merchandise out of the store, which is scheduled to close in May.
Founded by M. H. King in Burley, Idaho, in 1915, the store wanted to provide reasonably priced goods to small communities.