By Daniel Thompson
Reporter 

LorRon Department Store nearing fifty years in business

Couple’s business offers a mix of convenience and nostalgia downtown

 

Daniel Thompson

Ron Evelyn, who owns LorRon Department Store with his wife Lorna, is shown behind the counter. The couple plans on maintaining the store for two more years, to achieve fifty years in business.

Over the past five decades, generations of Kimball residents have passed LorRon Department Store while driving down East 2nd Street. Many have probably peered into its windows at the quaint antiques stored inside. However, fewer residents may know that the store has been around for nearly half a century.

The business was first opened by Ames Hartung, Chuck Joplin, and Waldamar Muehlberger in 1960 under the name Hartung’s Department Store. The store at that time was stocked with a full line of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing as well as shoes, domestic items and fabrics, according to the History of Kimball County book published in 1988.

According to Ron Evelyn, who owns LorRon Department Store with his lovely wife Lorna, the lot that the business sits on originally where one of the old hotels of Kimball stood.

“There was an old hotel here, and then they moved it and built this building for the original corporation called Hartung’s Incorporated,” Evelyn said.

Evelyn first came to the store in 1965 to take over as manager for the Hartung’s store. Evelyn had previously worked part-time for Ames Hartung in his department store in Gering and had also worked part-time at the Hartung’s store in Torrington.

It wasn’t until 1987 that Ron and Lorna Evelyn would take over the business and promptly rename it in order to allay any confusion over associations with the previous corporation.

“We renamed it, because the corporation was still in existence and we couldn’t have the confusion. Evelyn Department Store wouldn’t sound very good. So we combined Lorna’s and my name into LorRon Department Store,” Evelyn said.

Looking back at the 26 years of owning the business and nearly 50 years working at the location, it is clear that Evelyn appreciates the time spent behind the counter of the store.

“I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed the customers and everything else. [The antiques] brought in a lot of strangers, but we’ve met an awful lot of nice people, really nice people that are the kind that you’d want to make friends with and keep them as friends,” Evelyn said.

Evelyn expressed that they have always tried to treat the customer right. According to the story of a local resident, they have gone above and beyond treating customers with great kindness.

“One day I came in with the kids many years ago, because this is where we shopped. He said, ‘I have a pair of little kid’s shoes. They’re mismatched. One is a half a size smaller or bigger than the other one. I’ll just give them to you.’ He doesn’t know what that meant to us to have a pair of shoes, brand new for one of our kids. He has a heart. He really does,” the resident said.


According to Evelyn, the store has also had many great employees throughout the years that have been instrumental in keeping the business running as smoothly as possible.

“I was in the hospital and it was prom time, and one of my assistant managers many years ago could come in in the afternoon and took over the ordering of all the prom stuff for us. He’s been a friend, but I never expected him to come in and do that,” Evelyn said.

Evelyn also expressed how much he enjoys prom time, because of the interaction with local kids.

“I’ve always enjoyed myself with the prom and the kids. They show that we really have a bunch of neat kids. Regardless of what people think, they are good young adults,” Evelyn said.

Right now, Ron and Lorna plan to keep the store open for two more years before retiring from the business. In the mean time, they plan to keep offering the same goods and services that they have for many years.

When asked what he plans to do when he retires, Evelyn expressed a desire to stay active.

“I’d probably do a lot of yard work. I’d like to do some working. I’ve got tons of stain glass supplies and equipment, and I haven’t done anything with it for years. I’d probably get that out and work on that if I could cut the glass,” Evelyn said.

As far as what may happen to the building, there are a few options.

“When we are done--I’ve had people interested in the building, actually three different groups, but I may just end up leaving it and let the county take it over.”

However, for now the store still sits at 112 East 2nd Street in town, and people can stop in throughout the week to browse through the clothing items and enjoy all the many wonderful antiques that line the store.

Daniel Thompson

Knick-knacks and collectibles such as this cap and buttons above are just part of what is offered at LorRon Department Store.

 

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