Famed Iowa City store will close doors

After 36 years in Iowa City, Paul's Discount on Highway 1 in Iowa City will close in July. (CBS2/FOX28)

After 36 years in Iowa City, Paul's Discount on Highway 1 in Iowa City will close in July. The move comes as the family owned business reacts to a tough retail economy, as well as competition in Iowa City.

"You had two Walmart super stores come in, Menards, Kohls, Tysons and every time a new store opens up it just slices the pie into another piece," owner Robert Cassidy said." When it came time to sign a new lease it just didn't make any sense financially to do so."

Cassidy started working at the store in 1981 during his sophomore year in college, pushing his grandfather and father to open up a new location besides their original store in Clinton, Iowa, he understood what the community wanted and made the store a staple when it comes to providing anything and everything you can't find anywhere else.

"You got to be known for something to survive as an independent. My dad and grandfather had a really unique business model, we are not trying to be a big box store, we are just trying to be who we are," Cassidy said. "Give the customer a good price and carry a lot of unique merchandise. Customers say they find stuff in the store, they can't find anywhere else."

And the customers are key to Cassidy and his store. Most people have been shopping at Paul's since the day they opened. Roger Christian points to his shoes, then to his jacket, his gloves and his hat. All were purchased at Paul's, a store he says he has went to, as long as he can remember. He always parks at the east end of the parking lot, fewer cars and more shade during the summer. To him it means shoppers will lose another store that actually cares about what's important.

"It's just going to mean that we have lost another semi-locally owned business that really has over the years tried to serve the public in a very direct and human way," Christian said. "I don't feel good coming here for one of the last times."

People have even started a GoFundMe page to try and help keep the store in Iowa City. However, Cassidy doesn't regret the decision to close on July 31 when their lease his up. He simply says it was time and thinks of the great years the store had in the community.

"It's not going to be a funeral for Paul's Discount - It's going to be a celebration that this community supported us for 36 years."

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