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The shelves at H.B. Leiserowitz Co., one of Des Moines’ longest active businesses, are boring emptying.
A decade ago, those shelves in the characterless brick architecture at 13th and Walnut streets were arranged with boxes and boxes of Snickers, Tootsie Rolls and Frito Lays. Forty years afore that there were cigarettes, stereos, baseball cards and toasters — “anything to accomplish a buck,” said longtime agent Glenn Lewis.
“The bulk of actuality we acclimated to advertise was unbelievable,” he said.
Today, alone photography accessories and food remain, some pieces old abundant to admonish advisers of aback business was booming.
But that was addition time.
With slowing sales and the afterlife of its ancestor over the summer, the 122-year-old aggregation is packing up and adage goodbye to its actual customers, the Des Moines Register appear .
Its final day is Dec. 3.
H.B. Leiserowitz was started by Al Leiserowitz’s ancestor in 1895 at Fourth Street and Court Avenue in city Des Moines. It confused to a attenuated architecture on Keosauqua Way afore clearing into the alveolate barn at 213 13th St. in 1977.
But for 78 years, one affair consistently backward the same: Al Leiserowitz was there, animate six canicule a anniversary chatting up barter and demography pride in the family-owned business, said Rick Leiserowitz, his nephew and a 32-year agent of the store.
“He was a accoutrement here,” Leiserowitz said. “He aloof admired to be here, he admired to allocution to everybody and this was his life.”
The ancient Leiserowitz’s appointment is abounding with customers’ photographs, bi-weekly clippings and awards. There’s a photo of the 2011 account flight he took as a World War II adept and a archetype of the aboriginal H.B. Leiserowitz archive with photographs of aggregate already awash in the store.
Added afresh is a affected account of Al Leiserowitz that was acclimated in his obituary.
He died on July 8 at 96 years old.
Al did not name a almsman to booty over his business, so it will abutting to achieve his estate, Leiserowitz said. Both the architecture and the apparent parking lot to the west will be sold.
It’s the end of an era, but his nephew says the ancestors is beholden for the business that kept his uncle going. Al formed from accessible to abutting anniversary day until March, aback he suffered a fall.
“He appealing abundant said he had three secrets to his success: Animate here, walking the breadth — he absolved three afar a day — and he aloof swore by blueberries,” Leiserowitz said.
The retail mural has afflicted acutely over the aftermost century, and so too has H.B. Leiserowitz’s inventory.
Diversity was key to the business’ longtime success.
“Everybody would appear in for article different,” Leiserowitz said. “We had a amazing bulk of assortment aback then.”
H.B. Leiserowitz operated about like a Sears administration store, alms aggregate from KitchenAid mixers and airheaded machines to lighters and design jewelry. It delivered broad candy, soda, chips and cigarettes to breadth mom-and-pop grocery belief and bend gas stations.
“It acclimated to be annihilation to adjustment half-a-million cigarettes” to advertise for the week, said Lewis, who’s been a salesman there for 37 years.
The business afresh confused to Polaroid cameras, blur and the chemicals bare to action photographs. It best afresh confused into affairs agenda cameras, accessories and printer ink.
Leiserowitz chock-full bartering bonbon about 10 years ago aback the aggregation accomplished it couldn’t attempt with places like Sam’s Club or Costco.
It’s now become difficult to attempt with camera manufacturers and websites breadth barter can acquirement accessories afterwards sales tax, Leiserowitz said. Prices are about cheaper if purchased anon from the manufacturer, he said.
And the move to agenda photography agency barter accept beneath food to purchase. A camera and an SD anamnesis agenda are the best anyone needs these days, Lewis said.
“Business has been slowing bottomward the aftermost brace of years,” Leiserowitz said.
But that transformation in affairs habits didn’t change the adherence of H.B. Leiserowitz’s customers.
Leiserowitz said bodies accept been advancing in every day to say goodbye and allotment memories of Al and their time spent in the store. His uncle’s addiction of walking every day meant he was acclaimed to a lot of bodies in the area, abnormally the owners and CEOs of adjoining businesses, he said.
“It’s about like actuality animate for your own wake,” he said. “It’s meant a lot.”
Joleen Weller chock-full by Nov. 20 afterwards audition the account that H.B. Leiserowitz would anon close. The East High School photo abecedary has been activity to the abundance for eight years to buy accessories and get admonition for her students, she said.
She said she consistently recommended H.B. Leiserowitz to acceptance who capital to move accomplished their phones and acquirement a “big camera.”
“They’ve been cool affectionate and cool acceptable here, and I’m sad,” Weller said. “This is a austere blow.”
H.B. Leiserowitz had a front-row bench to the changes in city Des Moines over the aftermost century. The architecture is allotment of the Western Gateway, which houses the Pappajohn Sculpture Park and the Des Moines Public Library aloof blocks away.
“Al would aloof curiosity at the changes aback he came back” from his circadian walks, Leiserowitz said. “We acclimated to accept to airing four of bristles blocks to acquisition the aboriginal restaurant, and now you can airing to a dozen places aural a two- or three-block breadth here.
“It’s a fantastic, advancing area.”
Land south of the business of was already absolutely wooded. It’s now home to the Des Moines Fire Department’s axial base and the Axial Iowa Apartment & Services.
Other smaller-scale developments accept popped up in the area, like Noce applesauce club, Magnolia Wine Kitchen, Horizon Line Coffee, Art Terrarium and Exile Brewing Co.
A 90-unit market-rate accommodation building, alleged Flux, is beneath architecture at 1400 Walnut St. It will accept first-floor retail and bartering space.
“It’s one of the rapidly growing neighborhoods of downtown” anchored by Meredith Corporation and Nationwide Insurance, said Des Moines Assistant City Manager Matt Anderson.
H.B. Leiserowitz’s 29,712-square-foot architecture — complete with a fallout apartment — and the 16,000-square-foot parking lot will be sold. Combined, they’re adjourned at $1 million, according to Polk County records.
Leiserowitz said the ancestors does not yet accept a buyer, but Anderson suspects the backdrop will be purchased quickly. There’s abeyant for “any blazon of development” there, but apartment or appointment amplitude seems the best natural, Anderson said. It’s acceptable the alveolate barn would be broken bottomward rather than re-purposed, he said.
“It’s a prime development area,” Anderson said. “Whatever goes there will be exciting.”
H.B. Leiserowitz will authority an bargain of its actual items at apex on Dec. 3. A academic examination will be captivated the two canicule prior, but barter are acceptable any time to see what’s left, Leiserowitz said.
The business’s furniture, accessories and accessories will all be sold.
Leiserowitz says he’s not absolutely abiding what’s abutting for him, but knows he won’t be animate retail in December again, he said with a smile.
“Hopefully it’s a actual acceptable legacy, what we congenital in Des Moines,” he said. “One hundred and twenty-two years in business in city Des Moines says something.”
Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com
An AP Member Exchange aggregate by the Des Moines Register.
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