Everyone is aware of the impending closure of Younkers, the 162-year-old Iowa institution. Its demise is indicative of our changing retail habits as we now often opt for the convenience of online shopping. But it also represents another loss of our Iowa heritage. Most Iowans have fond memories of the store. For me, a native southern Californian, Younkers was the place I bought my first winter coat and my wedding suit.
But beyond nostalgia, Younkers played an important role in our state’s history, and we should not let its story fade away. There is only one book on the subject, Vicki Ingham’s Younkers: The Friendly Store (2016), which is an interesting and fun read, but much more needs to be said of this Iowa retailer, from its 1856 origins as a dry goods store in Keokuk to its closing this summer.
On a different note, please mark your calendars and save September 27. That evening, we’ll be hosting Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady and University of Iowa law professor Todd Pettys, who will be discussing the Iowa Constitution, its origins, and landmark supreme court cases that have shaped our state’s history. Michael Gartner, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, lawyer, and businessman will moderate the program. Details will be coming soon.