Liz Coleman sat in her car Sunday morning, waiting for the doors of the Macy’s department store to open one last time.
She said what so many others would say throughout the day.
“It’s sad. So sad.”
For nearly 50 years, the department store had anchored the west side of the Lima Mall, originally opening as Lazarus in August 1971. In 2003, the Lazarus store became Lazarus-Macy’s. Two years later, it was just Macy’s.
Now, call it Macy’s or call it Lazarus. As of Sunday night, it was called “closed.”
Coleman drove from the Paulding area Sunday to check out the store one last time and hopefully find a bargain.
“My friend told me it’s pretty picked over, but I just wanted to see,” she said. “When my husband was alive, we would come here and then over to Western Sizzlin’.”
Memories like that were freely shared during the weekend.
People talked about lining up outside for the “doorbusters” the day after Thanksgiving. A woman remembered taking her children to “breakfast with Santa.” Another laughed about all the times she would tell her husband she was going for a haircut and not only return with a new hairstyle but an armload of packages.
Sandy Wienken, of Landeck, pointed to the café and its chicken salad, lemonade pie and bread pudding. It was a staple of the store from its opening until 2009.
“I worked here for 12 years in home furnishings and the drapery department during the 1970s and 80s. It was always a treat to visit the café with coworkers. There were so many good people I worked with … fun people,” Wienken said.
For weeks leading up to Sunday’s closing, you could drive past the store and count the cars in the parking lot on two hands. The final weekend was different.
People were constantly in and out of the store looking for one last bargain. What they found instead was a cavernous building with mostly empty shelves. The top two floors were completely empty and shut off from the public.
The women’s shoes department? Wiped out. Only six pairs of shoes were left Sunday morning.
Men’s suits? Forget it. They were gone a long time ago.
Perfume. Uh-uh. All gone, too.
Bob Kraus, of Lima, came Sunday hoping to snatch some jewelry at a basement price. It was all gone and so was his safety net, he said.
“I tend to do things at the last minute,” he explained. “I could always come here on Christmas Eve and find something for my wife.”
Janet Steinke, a sixth-grader teacher in Wapakoneta, said the mall won’t be the same without Macy’s. She bought school clothing there, summer outfits and clothes for her grandkids. She preferred shopping in Lima instead of driving to Dayton. She’s not sure where she will go in the future.
“I would always run into friends when I came to Lima. You don’t get that social experience when you shop online,” she said.
The last few days were like working during a holiday, said Megan Kennedy, a 20-ish store clerk. She began working for Macy’s in November. Now, she’s not sure where she’ll find work.
“I’m sure I’ll find a job somewhere,” she said.
Arnold Walker, 83, of Lima said it’s just one more change during his lifetime. He recalled growing up when Gregg’s department store and all the retail was downtown.
”It then moved out to the American Mall and Lima Mall. Now one has been knocked down, and the other looks to be hurting,” he said. Pausing for a moment, he added, “When you get my age, it’s always interesting to see what’s next.”
ROSES AND THORNS: A group of veterans take a plunge into the rose garden.
Rose: To Gary Lewis, of Lima, and Josh Schellenberg and Jake Waschauf of Wapakoneta. The three members of AmVets Post 333 of Wapakoneta did a polar plunge, jumping in 48-degree water to raise money for Special Olympics.
Rose: To Jeff Meyer, of Columbus Grove High School. He won a state wrestling title in the 285-pound division, becoming only the second wrestler in the history of the school to win a state wrestling championship.
Thorn: To Lima mayoral candidate Joshua Hayes. The Ohio State Chiropractic Board fined him $5,000 and suspended his license for one year for infractions that included performing dry needling without proper education and training, performing acupuncture without a valid certificate, and failure to maintain treatment records for nine separate patients.
PARTING SHOT: Be prepared when working on your family tree. You may find out you’re the sap.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.