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Community store offers service, convenience


La CROSSE -- When La Crosse residents learned the Duckwall store was closing early last year, they went into action.

"We started seeing what we could do to get another store lined out," Gary Schmidt said.

Schmidt is the manager of Post Rock Variety, which opened a year ago in the space vacated by Duckwall.

Duckwall closed Jan. 9, and "by May 1 our doors were back open," he said.

Since the building where Duckwall had been located was owned by the La Crosse Area Industrial Development Corp., representatives contacted Duckwall-Alco Stores Inc., the parent company, about purchasing the shelving, Schmidt said.

Money for the venture came from 27 investors, most local.

However, some people didn't want to invest $5,000, so the group also received donations.

"We had donations from $20 to $2,500," Schmidt said. "That amounted to over $13,000, and with that we bought the registers and scanners and all the computer equipment."

Besides toys, cleaning supplies, food items, paper goods, hunting and fishing supplies, people can purchase licenses at the store, as well. The store also stocks La Crosse and Otis-Bison school T-shirts, caps and sweatshirts.

Garden items and plants are popular this time of year.

"We've sold over 200 hanging baskets already this spring," he said.

Since they're buying stock for just one store, it's difficult to be competitive on prices, but they offer convenience and customer service.

"We know most of our customers unless they're from out of town," Schmidt said. "We try to ask each customer if we can help them find things. If we don't have it, we try to get it for them."

The store, which has four part-time employees, celebrated its first anniversary with a sale and served cookies and lemonade to shoppers.