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11 Minnesota towns losing their general store as Alco chain shuts down

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Specializing in general merchandise may sound like an oxymoron, but a chain called Alco has been doing it for more than a century in small towns across America. Until now.

Alco announced going out of business sales at all 198 of its stores across the country Friday.

The Business Journal reports those include 11 Minnesota locations in towns ranging from Zumbrota to Warroad.

Spring Valley, Pine River, Moose Lake, Manhomen, Caledonia, Long Prairie, New Prague, Paynesville and Olivia are the other locations in the state.

Alco says since starting with a single variety store in 1901, the company has focused on providing a wide range of goods at discount prices in towns that lack access to larger chain stores.

The Wall Street Journal says most Alco stores are in towns of fewer than 5,000 residents in areas not served by Wal-Mart. The Journal counted at least 22 Alco stores with addresses on Main St.

The manager of the Spring Valley store tells Bluff Country News business there has been steady. Alco says in its announcement that going out of business sales will continue until all merchandise has been sold. Bluff Country News, though, reports the Spring Valley store will close Jan. 31.

Alco filed for bankruptcy in October. Thursday a bankruptcy court approved the liquidation of its assets, leading to Friday's announcement. Alco says its small town customers were disproportionately affected by the slowdown in the economy.

The most-liked comment under the announcement on Alco's Facebook page reads: "This is hard on our little towns."

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