The last original retail store in the former Quaker Square hotel is closing.
The Quaker Square General Store and NewsStand Comics is currently operating a going-out-of-business sale, marking all items 25 percent off.
The last day will be Sept. 18, said Kris Duey, the lone employee left running the store besides an employee who works for a few hours on Wednesdays.
Duey, who has worked at the General Store part-time for 15 years, will stay on until the store’s closing. The store’s manager recently retired.
The store is closing because the business isn’t sustainable, said Laurie Madden, UA associate president of auxiliary enterprises. The closure isn’t related to the university’s recent budget cuts.
UA has owned the store since it acquired the Quaker Square hotel and complex in 2007.
The university set aside some hotel rooms for residence rooms and continued to operated the hotel until 2013, when the hotel was turned into a full-time residence hall.
Some shops and restaurants continued to operate under UA ownership, and several business tenants continue to rent offices in the other levels of the shopping complex. The former Pie Factory is now a Z shop, run by the university.
“Quaker Square isn’t the same as it was. We were very happy to keep it open for eight years,” Madden said of the store. “Financially, it wasn’t sustainable.”
The General Store was one of the original Quaker Square Shops to open in 1975, according to information on the University of Akron website.
Duey said business has been affected since the university took over the complex and other stores left.
“We’re not getting the traffic we used to. People just don’t come down here a lot anymore,” she said.
Madden said when the store’s manager voluntarily turned in her retirement as of July 31 after 35 years, it was logical to close the store. The antique trains in the Quaker Square complex will remain and the Trackside Grill and Z shop will remain open, she said.
The store has had a number of locations over the years within the complex and had combined with the comic shop.
“It’s very sad,” Duey said of the closure.
The store has what Duey called eclectic gifts, toys and comic books mixed with University of Akron and Quaker Square memorabilia items.
“It’s something we really loved having over the years,” she said.
The General Store with comics added a nice dynamic to downtown retail, said Kimberley Beckett, director of business relations for the Downtown Akron Partnership, which was not aware of the closure.
“That will be missed,” she said.
The General Store used to have a fudge, candy and cookie shop, which was run for a while under the university’s ownership, but that was closed, too, Duey said.
The store’s hours are a bit sporadic as Duey tries to staff it while holding down another part-time job. She suggested customers call ahead to see if it is open at 330-972-8829.
Duey said she tries to be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.
There are extended hours until 6 p.m. on Wednesdays, when a worker who organizes the comics is there as he tries to transition the comic customers to other area stores, Madden said.
Duey said shoppers have been stopping by as word has started to spread that the historic store is closing.
“We’re trying to keep as many hours as normal as possible,” Duey said.
Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or email@example.com. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/betty