GALESBURG — After 43 years, the last anchor of Sandburg Mall has gone as Bergner’s had its final day of business Sunday. After it was announced in April that Bergner’s was closing all of its locations the store has been selling merchandise and even fixtures, and on Sunday, little remained.
On the eve of the store’s opening on Oct. 1, 1975, a flier in The Register-Mail showed the latest fashions. It claimed that “Bergner’s is Back and Bigger & Better.” It bragged that the beauty salon was “ready to transform you into the woman you want to be.” It pointed out that you could have your purchases gift wrapped and even pay your power and telephone bills at the service desk. It called The Galley “a unique little eatery with the convenience of cafeteria service.
But for those who arrived through the doors of one of the mall’s original tenants, bargains were to be had. Everything that remained was for sale, and not just the clothing. Headless mannequins, countless shelves, racks and even the office supplies could be had for a price as could a fax machine, used screwdrivers and some elderly-looking bottles of Coca-Cola that bragged they were “original flavor.”
Bill and Jane Burgland of Galesburg were in the parking lot, loading up some glass shelving that will be used in their daughter’s house.
“It was such a beautiful thing when it opened,” remembered Jane. “It was sad when he heard it would close. We hope some joy can come from the sadness and see something new move in. We want to see it built back up.”
Melissa Simms of Oneida reminisced about the mall as she browsed some Levi’s jeans, only $2.
“My first job was at McDonald’s (at the mall.) I miss getting dropped off on a Friday night and hanging out.”
She managed to find some clothing for herself, her kids and her nieces.
Glenn Rigdon of Galesburg walked toward a cashier, arms full of jeans. He, too, remembered when the mall opened in 1975.
“I really liked the concept, but it seems like strip malls are taking over. One thing that’s always true is things are always changing.”
Judy Nichols of Galesburg lamented the loss of yet another clothing store and the rise of online shopping.
“I won’t be able to try things on first. I like the aesthetics of a store,” Nichols said.
She continued, “I’m really going to miss the mall. It was really nice and they had everything in here you could possibly want. There was a bakery, a McDonald’s and multiple shoe stores.”
“I always enjoyed it.”
Sue Bracken of Galesburg was picking out tablecloths once used in the store in a variety of colors.
“My daughter lives out east and is making dresses for some kind of festival and so this will make good fabric.”
She remembered when her sister was the “talking Christmas tree” at Bergner’s, once upon a time.
As the day inched closer to its end, the future of Sandburg Mall remains uncertain. With Bergner’s closing, only Karmark Tire and Automotive, and GNC, the last surviving original tenant, remain.