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As the pandemic stretches into its second year, the Register is reminiscing about some of the businesses that closed in the Des Moines metro in 2021.
Some of the non-essential businesses that shuttered their doors in March 2020 reopened to customers with extra stimulus checks to spend, while others remained permanently closed. Nationally, around 85% of businesses that initially closed have since reopened.
This year retail outlets from an 80-year-old barber to a haberdashery started by a survivor of the Holocaust permanently closed their doors.
Here are retailers that have closed in the metro in 2021:
After surviving four years at the Dachau Concentration Camp, Polish immigrant Fred Badower opened his menswear haberdashery in 1950, first in his west-side Des Moines home and later in the Shops at Roosevelt.
After a fire destroyed the shop in 1953, Badower swore to reopen in all its glory.
“Once Hitler took away all I had, but after the war I started with my 10 fingers and built a business,” he told the Des Moines Register after the first fire. “I still have my 10 fingers and I’ll start again, little by little, and some day I’ll have a shop again.”
After a second, separate fire wrecked havoc on the store, Badower moved the business to 2817 Ingersoll Ave. in 1961. By the early 1990s, he and his wife, Ann, sold the store to a Des Moines businessman, who sold it to the Midwest Clothiers group in 1995.
Tim Sitzmann, CEO of Midwest Clothiers, told the Register in February that the pandemic had a lasting effect on retail stores across the country.
“We’re all sad,” he said. “But it’s a reality of the pandemic.”
Badowers remained open as the haberdashery worked to sell its remaining inventory. According to its Facebook page, Badowers’ last day was June 5.
Barber Stylists Uptown
Before his retirement from Barber Stylists Uptown, Sam Reese might have been the longest working barber in Des Moines.
Reese worked at the barbershop in the Uptown Center shopping complex at 42nd Street and University Avenue since he was just 19. On Sept. 1, he hung up the barbering shears after 62 years of cutting hair.
Barber Stylists Uptown first opened in the mid-1940s but Reese started at the shop in 1959, eventually becoming the owner.
Reese partially decided to retire as the pandemic deterred some of his devoted clientele, he told the Register in January. He said around two-thirds of his customers skipped their regular appointments.
“I’ve got people I haven’t seen for eight or nine months, just because they’re apprehensive about this illness,” he said last January.
Shortly after retiring, Reese died on Sept. 21, 2021 at age 81. According to his obituary, Reese continued his barbering services for clients in his home on Grand Avenue.
“At this time, I would like to thank my children, my family, friends and business family for the blessed life they have afforded me,” Reese included in his obituary.
Remember movie rental stores?
While Video Warehouse closed in February, the Des Moines institution outlasted many national rental companies as the rise of streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu pushed the business model out of popularity.
Video Warehouse first opened at 5801 Franklin Ave. in 1986, serving thousands of customers throughout the decades. Once, there were 30 Video Warehouse locations in Iowa.
Jon Fridley, who managed the store, told the Register last year that the pandemic was the straw that broke the camel’s back as customers succumbed to subscription streaming services.
“And once they go to the streaming services, it’s hard to get them back,” Fridley said.
Once operating 800 video rental stores at its peak, Family Video president Keith Hoogland announced in a statement Jan. 5 the company’s intentions to close its remaining locations.
Illinois-based Family Video had already shuttered six of its Iowa stores in September 2020, including locations on the south side of Des Moines, in Urbandale, Boone and Indianola.
The former West Des Moines store on Merle Hay Road was the final Family Video location standing in the Des Moines metro.
“The impact of COVID-19, not only in foot traffic but also in the lack of movie releases, pushed us to the end of an era,” Hoogland wrote in the statement.
Still closed: Fleur Cinema
While other movie theaters in the Des Moines metro reopened their screens to cinephiles and popcorn lovers, Fleur Cinema & Cafe at 4545 Fleur Drive remains closed since March 2020 with no scheduled showtimes on the near horizon.
In July 2021, several entertainment venue operators attributed delayed reopenings to the slow distribution of funds from the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, distributed by the Small Business Administration.
Lisa Glas with Coppola Enterprises, which manages the property where the Fleur is located, told the Register in July that managers of the theater did not want to comment if Fleur applied for the grant. SBA records showed Raccoon River Investments, a “motion picture theater operator” with the same address as Coppola, 4521 Fleur Drive, received a $215,000 Shuttered Venue Operators Grant.
Glas confirmed to the Register that Fleur is not permanently closed. In July she said the theater is, “continuing to monitor the environment and will make an announcement as soon as we can ensure everyone’s safety.”
Fleur Cinema did not return a message from the Register for this article.
The locally owned movie theater first opened in October 2001 and in 2017 Cosmopolitan crowned Fleur as the “coolest” theater in Iowa for screening “independent, foreign, and Hollywood films that Des Moines residents can’t always find at a typical chain.”
Other coverage of closures: