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Popular Clinton discount store closing July 31

Paul’s store has drawn Sauk Valley customers for decades

CLINTON, Iowa – A popular discount shopping destination for Sauk Valley shoppers, one requiring a trip across the Mississippi River, will close its doors after 54 years. 

Paul’s Discount store, 1940 Lincoln Way, will close July 31, owner and president Rob Cassidy said Tuesday in a news release.

“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,” said Cassidy, who tried for 3 years to find a buyer.

“We, like many other retailers are also seeing a shift in market share as more and more consumers migrate to e-commerce sites.”

He also acknowledged that the independently owned store, Clinton’s first and Iowa’s largest, has a devoted customer base that extends beyond its immediate area; he specifically cited Sterling and Rock Falls, about 30 miles east of Clinton.  

Paul’s sells apparel, electronics, footwear, hardware, home decor, pet supplies, sporting goods, toys, and lawn and garden items from both top-line and unique brands at discounted prices. 

“Sterling-Rock Falls is a pretty big trade market,” Cassidy said. “It’s hard to draw shoppers out of that market on a regular basis, but a lot of outdoorsmen and fishermen have been attracted to our sporting goods, and people have come over here for our apparel.”

Paul’s departure will add to the wide amount of empty retail space in Clinton’s Lincolnway District, one that has seen places such as Kmart, ShopKo and Target close in recent years. 

Cassidy never looked to compete with Target, but ts closure in 2015 did have an effect on Paul’s business, he said.

“Target was a great pull to get people from the Sterling-Rock Falls market,” he said. “There’s a lot of factors that have weighed in on the situation we’re in, and Target closing is one factor that did not help our business, because it was a great magnet to get people to Clinton.”

To prepare for store-closing sales, Paul’s will close from April 22 to 24; a sale will begin April 25 and run until final closure. Discounts will range from 10 percent to 50 percent on certain items, and increase over time, he said.

Cassidy’s father, Bob, opened Paul’s in 1964 with his father Parker. They had a second store in Iowa City that opened in 1981 and closed July 14.

Cassidy has been an owner for more than 30 years.

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