ENUMCLAW – When came to town Gerald Ford was president. Ronald Reagan was president when Greg and Virginia Thompson bought the store. And when store manager Craig Gammon came to town George Bush Sr. was president.
That’s a lot of history. So it came as a shock recently when the Thompsons let Gammon know that they are closing the store April 30 because of the poor economy and personal health reasons. The Thompsons moved from the area a few years ago because of their health, Gammon said.
“They wanted to move where it was warm and dry (Arizona)," Gammon said.
Steve and Sonja Jones, who own the downtown building on Cole Street, said they are working on a new tenant and hope to make an announcement soon on that.
Meanwhile, Gammon isn’t sure what he is going to do.
“Unemployment,” he said, half-jokingly. Gammon has been with the Enumclaw Radio Shack for 18 years.
“It’s my hometown, I’m going to stay,” he said. “This has been a mom and pop store working with friends and neighbors.”
He said in his time here he has seen the town grow and many businesses come and go, but it’s never been as bad as it is now. That’s why he can’t see himself buying the business from the Thompsons.
“It’s just not a viable vehicle,” he said of the store, which has three other employees.
Tracey McCallum, director of the , said it’s hard to see not only Radio Shack go, but also to see so many empty storefronts downtown. “We are very sorry to see Radio Shack close their doors," she said. "They’ve been a part of our community for a long time, and it’s never easy. We would like nothing more than to see this economy turn around. Teresa (Luedeke, her executive assistant) and I are focused on trying to fill these empty storefronts and bring shoppers into our town.”
Even though it’s a chain store, Radio Shack was more like a local store. It sponsored events like the Arts Alive Auction and Little League teams, sold tickets to events and was part of the community. But more people are buying electronic equipment online and at huge newer chain stores like Best Buy and Wal Mart, Gammon said, adding they can offer seven times the inventory he can.
“It’s a sign of the times,” Gammon said. “The economy – I’ve never seen it like this. There are still some who want to shop local, God bless ’em. But it’s just too hard to compete.
“It’s kind of sad if you think about it.”
The store manager said Radio Shack is having a 30 percent sale to try to clean the shelves.
“It’s knocking the inventory down quite nicely,” he said. “Everyone’s sad we’re closing, but they sure like the discounts.”
Gammon did think of one positive thing about his situation.
“This will be my first Christmas since 1973 that I haven’t had to work in retail,” he said.