ALCO completes close-down

Staff Writer
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

A “Going Out of Business” sale at the local ALCO outlet was scheduled to conclude Tuesday, store officials said early this week.

Final closing the national retail outlet comes more than three months after the inventory liquidation sale started on Nov. 21 in the wake of an October filing of bankruptcy by Texas-based ALCO Stores Inc. The local store — which operated for nearly two decades out of a former Wal-Mart at 1457 W. Main — was one of nearly 200 locations in 23 states.

ALCO evolved from a five-and-dime store named Duckwall’s, founded at Abilene, Kan., in 1901. The discount chain went through a management-led leveraged buyout in 1984. More than 50 Duckwall-ALCO stores closed during a previous Chapter 11 bankruptcy — from which the company emerged in 1991. After adopting a business strategy which targeted communities having no major retail competion, ALCO acquired several smaller chains and nearly doubled its number of outlets.

Last year’s bankruptcy filing cited “increased competition” from dollar-type stores and “declining consumer and business confidence, which has led to decreased customer traffic and reduced levels of consumer spending, particularly on discretionary items.” Company assets were listed at $221.7 million with debt of $161.6 million.

ALCO also reported owing $104.2 million under a credit agreement with Wells Fargo Bank NA.

The liquidation sale featured discounts of up to 80 percent on ALCO’s total stock of family apparel, electronic items and home furnishings. During the final weeks, store fixtures also were being sold.

More than two dozen local jobs are being lost due to the closing.