Leuthold’s to close its doors
By Heather J. Carlson
KASSON — Shoppers swarmed Leuthold’s clothing store on Wednesday morning carrying stacks of clothes in what the owner said amounted to the biggest business the store had seen in decades.
"I’ve been overwhelmed with how this store has filled up," said owner Larry Turner as he glanced around the shop.
But those brisk sales are coming as the 141-year-old business plans to close its doors. After 48 years of working for Leuthold’s, Turner says he has watched as fewer and fewer customers have been choosing to shop at small, local clothing stores.
"People’s buying habits have changed," he said. "They want more stores and more selection than smaller towns can offer."
Robyn Iversen was among the customers roaming the aisles looking for bargains. She had already found some button-up shirts, earrings and a pair of black gloves she planned to buy.
"I’m sorry I didn’t shop here more often," the Byron resident said. "You don’t realize what a nice place it is until its gone."
The store dates back to 1865, the same year Kasson was founded. Swiss immigrant Jacob Leuthold Sr. opened Leuthold’s General Store. Thirteen years later, his son started a men’s clothing store. The business quickly grew with several stores opening up around Minnesota. Turner and his wife Sonja took over the Kasson store in 1985.
Turner said he and his wife decided it was time to retire and spend more time with family. The 68-year-old says they plan to keep Leuthold’s open through Christmas to clear out merchandise. When asked about how hard it was to decide to close the store, Turner’s eyes welled with tears.
"With the store being here so long — 141 years — it’s tough to be the one to close the store," he said.
Leuthold’s is not the only longtime Kasson business closing. Miller’s Antiques is also shutting its doors after 37 years in business. Owner Candace Williams said that after seven years running the store, she decided to close because sales had been slipping as more customers go to stores like T.J. Maxx and Pier One. The business was also assessed $20,000 for street improvements, adding to its challenges.
"We’re sad to close, but we’re looking forward to change," Williams said.
The antique store building has been sold and will serve as the new location for Kasson 24 Hour Workout. No buyer has been found yet for the Leuthold’s building.
Kristi Allen, of Chatfield, was among the shoppers saying she will miss the clothing store.
She added, "It’s actually like losing a member of the family."
1865 Swiss immigrant Jacob Leuthold Sr. openes Leuthold’s General Store.
1878 Leuthold’s son, Jacob Leuthold Jr. opens a men’s clothing store.
1945 A certificate of incorporation is issued to Leuthold Company, Inc.
1978 Leuthold’s clothing celebrates 100 years in business with 11 stores open throughout Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin.
1985 Larry Turner becomes Kasson’s store manager.
1994 Leuthold corporation dissolves; Turner and his wife Sonja buy the Kasson store.
2006 Leuthold’s set to close by end of the year.