Waterloo staple to close after 104 years - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo staple to close after 104 years

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After 104 years, a staple in Waterloo will soon be closing its doors.

Robins Surplus in downtown Waterloo first opened in 1913. Gary Ritter bought the business, and took over the store in the 1980s; fast forward to today, and his son, Brian, is the current owner.

"It's definitely a bittersweet deal. You know we've done it for a long time, we're going out on our own terms. We're pretty happy, but that's the bittersweet part of the deal," Brian said.

Robins Surplus acted as a destination spot over the years. Inside, customers can find winter clothing, work boots, t-shirts and more. The store is also a military surplus, offering old hats to browse through and war medals hanging on the wall. 

It seems history is woven into every pile and every rack; even in the original flooring, which creaks with almost every step. 

"That's kind of the cool nostalgia of it," Brian said.

The store's been at its current location, 110 E 4th St, in Waterloo since the 90s. Before that, people would find it down the street, or a few blocks over, as the location has changed a few times over the years.

Time is one reason for calling it quits, Gary Ritter said. Ritter, along with other business owners, are seeing a trend.

"We've been hurt by the Internet, that's brought us down. And it dates way back to the days of Walmart."

The Ritters aren't sure what, or who, will fill the walls of Robins Surplus once they're done. Brian hopes the new occupants will take advantage of the space and opportunity of being downtown, and get involved in the community.

Until closing time, everything in the store is discounted by 30 percent. Brian doesn't have a set closing date yet, but suspects it will be sometime in September. 

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