For nearly 40 years, two local stores have stood the test of time through an up and down economy, but now, Thelma's and the Guy's Shop in Merrill is closing their doors.
Jack and Sherry Kleinschmidt are the owners, and they say the secret to a thriving business comes down to excellent customer service.
"Our specialty is knowing our customers as friends, just doing what needed to be done to get what they needed. Your customers are your business and they're friends when they come in the door," Sherry says.
On Saturday, that door will be closed once and for all, when the Kleinschmidts retire.
Before the couple began their journey in the business world, it was a different world for them. Sherry was working in management for the store, and Jack working in law enforcement.
"I really am going to miss the fact that I have, my whole life, dealt with the public, so it's going to be hard," Jack says.
For many regular customers, it was a shock that the stores will soon be a thing of the past.
Jeff Dejarlais says he's been coming to the store for about two years now, since he moved to Merrill and says one of the big reasons he shops at the Kleinschmidts' store, is because he is treated very well every time he comes in.
"I hear it every day on the bus, people are so sad this place is closing," Dejarlais says.
The couple says the store has been good for the economy. It's brought in business not only locally, but from out of town as well. Jack says that brings concern about losing two of the anchor stores downtown.
"In the Guy's Shop, I would say probably 85 - 90% was out-of-town business, so Merrill's going to miss those people coming into the community. "
Still the couple says it's a relief, and they're happy to be able to kick back and spend more time with their children and grandchildren.
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