A staple of downtown Lawrence's retail scene has fallen victim to the souring economy.
The owners of Arensberg's Shoes announced Thursday that they are closing their Massachusetts Street store after 50 years in business.
"I've gone through recessions before, but I've never seen it like this," said Tim Arensberg, who is a co-owner of the family-owned business. "It has been tough. Our out-of-town business just isn't coming anymore."
Arensberg said he believes retailers may be entering a new era, one where consumers finally begin heeding the advice of financial planners who have urged people to spend less and save more.
"I think that is probably the mindset that we should have had all along, but the reality is that some stores are going to have to close as a result of it," Arensberg said.
The store, 825 Mass., closed its doors Thursday to begin preparing for a going-out-of business sale. The store will reopen on Nov. 20. Arensberg expects it to remain open through the holidays.
The business, founded by brothers Lee and Jack Arensberg, moved from Atchison to Lawrence in 1958. The business remained family-owned with Jack, Tim, Tom, Jeff and Andy Arensberg all working in the store.
The family has not decided what to do with the large downtown building, which previously was a Montgomery Ward's store.
"There already is a lot of interest," said Tim Arensberg, who said he had fielded three inquiries about the building since posting the going-out-of business sign on Thursday morning.
Arensberg said business had started to deteriorate over the last several years, especially on what used to be profitable Kansas University game days. He said the store - which had about 10 part-time employees - remained financially solvent, but the family determined it no longer was producing an adequate return on its investment.
"We've had phenomenal customers," Arensberg said. "It has been a great ride. I'm sorry that we've had to come to this decision. I'll feel like I'm letting people down by not being here."