One of Winona's oldest businesses will soon close its doors for good, its owners say.
J&K Office Products, 109 E. Third St., will close when it sells out its inventory, likely by the end of 2009, said co-owner Barry Duellman. The company, originally named Jones & Kroeger Printing, opened in 1883 and has been owned by the Duellman family since 1963. Factors prompting the closing include the competitiveness of the industry, the recession and the desire of Barry and his brother and co-owner, Richard, to retire, Duellman said.
"It's been a good ride," he said. "The business has been very good to our family."
The company focused primarily on printing when it first formed and occupied a building at 116 W. Third St. J&K thrived in its first decades of existence, employing as many as 70 people and producing the city's directories around the turn of the century.
Business was lagging, though, when Barry and Richard's father, a retired Air Force colonel, bought the company in 1963, Duellman said. The brothers took over ownership in 1972, and the company thrived once more, operating stores in Albert Lea, Austin and Worthington, Minn., and Black River Falls, Wis., in addition to the Winona location, he said.
Those stores have since closed, and the flagship store will soon follow suit. Both brothers have reached retirement age, so the constant challenge of battling tough local competition in a recession is not as appealing, Duellman said.
"If I was 45 years old instead, we'd probably be looking at some different things," he said.
Still, Duellman knows the announcement of such a long-operating business will surprise many customers and residents, especially those the owners have worked with for years.
"There's going to be a lot of people who will be shocked," he said. "But it's been a good run."