MIDDLEPORT — This week’s announcement that Ingels Radio Shack located at the corner of North Second and Race Streets in downtown Middleport was closing its doors came as a shock to the already suffering downtown business community.
Signs announcing a closeout sale went up over the weekend. The store was closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for marking down merchandise, and reopened this morning at 9:30 a.m. to begin the liquidation sale of merchandise and fixtures, which owner Jason Ingels said will “go ‘til we’re mostly sold out.”
Closing of the store marks the end of a business established in 1959 by the late George Ingles. His son Jason came into the business a number of years later and the two worked together until the elder Mr. Ingels retired and the ownership changed. Some years later Jason changed the business from furniture and appliance sales to electronics and then about 10 years ago to Radio Shack exclusively.
Ingels admits that the decision to close the store was a hard one to make, but he felt he had no choice.
“The decline in business started when Peoples Bank (located right across the street) closed its doors last year,” he said. “It took a lot the traffic right out of Middleport and without people on the street here to shop we lost business and we just couldn’t survive. When the bank closed that was when we began to see the decline in store traffic.”
The Ingels family bought the three buildings, the one where the business is located and the two adjacent, from the late Maxine Coats. George Ingels opened the store in the largest of the three, the one on the corner, and rented the other two. One is now rented to Health Recovery, another is up for rent, and the store building which has three floors , will be for rent once the liquidation sale is over, according to the owner. He said he’s hopeful that in time occupants can be found, and extended thanks to the hundreds of people who shopped there over the years.
The announcement of the store closing came as a shock to the community. Middleport Mayor Michael Gerlach spoke of the loss not only to the owners, whom he wished well, but to the community. “What a loss it is,” he said. “What a shame the local business wasn’t supported, and how we need to come up with something that will reverse that.”
He spoke of the continuing efforts to get a bank back in town, of the prospects for a grocery store, and of the need to attract businesses to the village. “The closing of Ingels is a real loss to the community,” he commented.
“We desperately need something to reverse what’s happening here. The (Ingels) family has been here forever and it’s just a shame that they didn’t have enough customers to keep the store open. Our downtown retail was already lacking … and now this,” he concluded.