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Another Joplin Store Closing

I went to our Joplin Macy’s last Sunday. They’re closing their doors soon. Sears closed last year. Macy’s is closing this year. We lost Price Cutter a few years ago. Payless Shoes closed a couple of years ago. Who’s next? Hopefully no one. We’re running out of stores.

I need a new pair of shoes due to my painful foot issue. I thought perhaps I could get a good deal at Macy’s since they’re closing. Not so much. Their athletic shoes were nearly gone, and they were only giving a 25% discount. When the shoes are $109.00 originally, that’s more than I’m willing to pay even with a discount. In fact, most of their remaining inventory was 25% off. There wasn’t much left of it, either.

Macy’s closing saddens my heart for a few reasons. Of course, I will miss shopping there. For a jewelry junkie like me, their holiday sales couldn’t be beat. What bothers me most is the fact that so many employees will be losing their jobs. It doesn’t just bother me. It chokes me up because I know how that feels.

I’m going to show my age here. In 1992, I was twenty years old. I’d worked at Walgreens at our local mall for two years. I was a part-time cosmetician, meaning I sold makeup, skin care products, and perfume in the cosmetics department. I worked part-time because I was a full-time college student back then.

That was the year Walgreens decided to get away from malls and build free standing stores. That was a great plan and would have been just super, but they decided to close my store a few years before building a new one in the area. That meant all of my co-workers and I lost our jobs.

There was a new Phar-Mor store being built down the street from the mall, and I found a job there. I helped set up the store and then worked as a cashier for as long as they were business, which was all of four months. Phar-Mor’s president embezzled several million dollars from the company, and our new store closed before being in business half a year.

As Phar-Mor was in the process of closing, I found a job at a new grocery store that was about to open, Food 4 Less. I worked at both Phar-Mor and Food 4 Less for two months until the former closed its doors for good.

I worked at Food 4 Less for three years while I finished my college degree. Shortly after earning my degree, I moved to Springfield to take an assistant manager job at . . . Walgreens. It didn’t work out well. I had a severe personality conflict with my store manager, who wasn’t a very nice person. Therefore, I moved on.

I came full circle when found a job at the Springfield Food 4 Less store after working at Ramey’s in Aurora for a while. I worked at that Food 4 Less for a year or so before they transferred me to Joplin to open Sav-a-Lot. Both stores are franchises, and were owned by the same partnership at the time.

Opening a new store is almost as stressful as closing an old one. I was the bookkeeper at Sav-a-Lot plus all other duties as needed. That included figuring the books, counting cash, hiring, training, running a register, unloading trucks, stocking shelves, cleaning restrooms, and a host of other things.

I finally left the retail/grocery business behind me in 1999 when I was hired by a huge pet food company that doesn’t exist anymore. Doane Pet Care was a great place to work, and my co-workers taught me a lot.

I couldn’t have asked for a better place to transition from working in a store to working in an office. They even sent me to computer classes for which I will always be grateful. Then they laid me off to move my department to Brentwood, Tennessee. So, the job search was on again.

Walking through a store that’s closing makes my heart twist. Seeing the empty shelves pushed up against the wall, the “Everything Must Go” signs, and the emotional employees take me back to my own times of uncertainty. Very little is scarier than not knowing when the next paycheck is coming.

I relate to what the Macy’s employees are going through better than many people in the area. Unlike a few customers I noticed who were impatient with the workers, I go out of my way to be nice to them. One employee told me that she has worked in that store since before it became Macy’s. Back then, it was a store called Famous-Barr.

Her obvious despair as she rang up my items and struggled to bag them made me want to hug her. She maintained her composure, but she had to fight to do it. She doesn’t know what’s going to happen next. She’s an older lady and assumes her employment options are limited. I hope that she can find a job, not just to replace the one she’s losing, but one that’s better and makes her happy. It took me a while, but I did.

We all have stress in our lives. A little kindness goes a long way when someone is obviously struggling. Losing a job is not only financially stressful, it can be emotionally devastating as well.

I wish everyone good health, happiness, and prosperity.

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