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Casey's to close store next to Corn Palace

Casey's General Store employees Ken Tredway, from left, Ariel Anderson, Justin Morgan and Heather Weberg pose for a photo in front of the store at the Seventh Avenue and North Main Street northwest corner of the intersection. The Casey's General Store location will close on May 29. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Just as the tourist season gets underway, the Casey's General Store next door to the Mitchell Corn Palace is closing.

"We're pretty upset," said store manager Heather Weberg, who said the longtime downtown fixture will close on May 29.

"It's been my life," said Weberg, who has managed the store for 14 years.

Ariel Anderson, who has worked at the store for about three years, said what makes it tougher is that "we are like a close-knit family. We are all so close."

She especially feels sorry for Weberg.

However, both are planning to move to the city's only other Casey's store downtown about eight blocks to the south.

Three other employees will lose their jobs or can transfer to the other Mitchell store or another within the company, said Weberg.

As for the reason for the closing, the two didn't know for sure.

However, it is one of the few Casey's stores that doesn't serve its well-known, made-from-scratch pizza, doughnuts, subs and sandwiches as it doesn't have a kitchen.

Also, another factor perhaps is because numbers were down last year because of nearby road work. Weberg doesn't think they should have been punished for that.

"We always have pretty slow winters," she said. "But it's the busy season now with all of the tourists."

It's believed the store is at least 40 years old as a permit on the wall states the year as 1978. The company, started in 1968 and based in Ankeny, Iowa, has more than 2,000 stores in 16 states, mostly in the Midwest and Plains states.

The company enjoys being in smaller communities as it says 57 percent of its stores are in towns of 5,000 or fewer.

Calls about the closing made to a district manager and area supervisor weren't returned as of presstime.

Its finances appear to be strong as a report released early this year said four hedge funds and institutional investors have increased their holdings in the company. The two biggest were Goldman Sachs that increased its holdings in the fourth quarter to 393,898 shares valued at $44 million. Baird Financial Group upped its shares last quarter to 353,624 worth $39.5 million. Comerica Bank, however, reduced its shares by 9 percent last quarter, said the report.

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