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End Of An Era Oakdale Radio Shack Prepares To Close Doors
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A familiar face at the counter of Oakdales Radio Shack the past 22 years. Owner Barbara Cook will lock the door of the family business for the last time on Saturday, May 19 as she enters into the life of retirement and closes the business. Teresa Hammond/The Leader

Radio Shack still sells radios. Saturday, May 19 however, will be the last day someone will be able to buy one from the 1449 E. F St., Oakdale location or any other such treasure.

After 22 years in the business Barbara Cook will lock the doors of her business one final time.

“It’s time,” Cook said from her third and final location on the East end of town.

She and her husband Jim were first introduced to the idea of purchasing the business 22 years ago, following her retirement from First Interstate Bank where she spent 21 years of employment. At that time the store was located in the Cost Less shopping center.

“It has changed so much from the beginning,” Cook shared. “The biggest hurt was when they went into bankruptcy and everybody thought we were closed.”

Cook shared that in addition to losing her husband six years ago, Radio Shack Corporation filed for bankruptcy protection twice in the past five years. A fact which both stunted foot traffic, as well as sales. As a smart businesswoman, however, Cook found a way to partner with other suppliers, relocate the store to a more visible space and maintain a decent business given the times we are in, but it wasn’t easy.

Recalling the change of business through the past two decades, Cook shared stories of the Christmas Holiday season, namely Black Friday. The way it “was” before big box stores opened their doors Thanksgiving day and at the midnight hour.

“We’d have 40 people out there in the morning,” Cook said of Black Friday business prior to the big box change. The business owner added the store would bring in $14,000 to $15,000 on a given day during that time.

“If we had 35 to 40 people that’s a lot in a day,” she continued. “As the shopping got different and people were going on line we’d be lucky to do a thousand (dollars) in a day. The swing is daunting.”

All that aside, Cook has proven that she can weather through the toughest of times. Caring for her husband prior to his passing, maintaining a business and continuing to be an active volunteer in the community, at the age of 77 she thrives by keeping busy.

“I went with the theory that I should probably keep on going,” she said of keeping the doors open once Jim passed. “Things had been so hectic when he was sick. People usually say don’t do anything for at least a year and I thought that was pretty true.”

So why now? While to the outsider the assumption might be a decline in business, for Cook it’s a bit more simple than that.

“My lease is due the end of May,” she said. “I’m 77 years old. If I did renew my lease, then I’d be 82 (at lease end) and I don’t think I want to do that.”

In this case, it is closing the books and yet opening another.

“I’m seeing it as a new chapter really,” she said of the life ahead of her.

Currently she works seven days a week. Taking a day off here or there to meet friends for lunch or outings. Now, Cook has plans of travel, fishing, spending more time with her two children and 10 grandchildren, as well as continuing her volunteer work.

“The days that I don’t have to be somewhere, I love being in my nightgown until noon,” she admitted. “I’m going to miss the people that come in and visit, but I’m ready for this. I have no regrets.”

The Oakdale Radio Shack is currently open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. All stock is currently being sold at 40 percent off. Fixtures are also available for purchase. For questions or further information call 209-847-9131.