After 33 Years, Sedalia Business Closing
PETTIS COUNTY - Residents in Sedalia are saying goodbye to their area's largest outlet store. In just a few weeks, “A Little Bit Of Everything," a local treasure just outside of Sedalia, will be closing its doors after 33 years.
Carl Willadsen started the business with his brother John in Oct. 1977. In Dec. 1993, Willadsen bought his brother’s share of the store and became the sole owner. The store began in downtown Sedalia, but a year after its opening, Willadsen moved it nine miles south of Sedalia.
“When we first opened the building wasn't even finished,” Willadsen said. “We had to be open 24-hours a day because the merchandise started rolling in and there were no walls, we had to hang up a sheet of plastic.”
A customer created the name “A Little Bit Of Everything," and the title said it all. From couches to car seats, screws and shirts, the store has sold almost everything. Customers may even remember movie memorabilia or the store being the exclusive liquidators for the Home Shopping Network. At one point Willadsen said they had a Coast Guard lifeboat and a giant leather elephant on sale.
“I would be really bored with a normal store,” Willadsen said. “I like variety, I like odd things, I like that treasure hunt mentality, like you don’t know what you might find in here.”
Hundreds would flock to the store for its clothing sales. Some people came from all over the nation.
“Clothing sales, they were pandemonium,” Willadsen said. “They were a lot of fun. Four days and we would have about 17,000 garments and we would liquidate them in four days. Those were the days. When we had a mailing list, it went nationwide from Seattle to Florida, to Grand Rapids, Mich. Families would plan their vacations around these clothing sales. It was fun to see who came the farthest.”
One particular clothing sale day stands out in Willadsen’s mind.
“I remember one time when we opened, there was a crowd all the way around the building,” Willadsen said. “The sheriff’s department had patrolled the night before and they slipped a card under the door to say your building is secure and I unlocked the door and I bent down to get the card and it was like a herd, I was just trampled. I could hear ladies saying, ‘okay you know the program, just grab, just grab.’ I made it away from there and that was the first time that I got a little panicky wondering, ‘I don’t think the building can hold,’ it was just wall to wall people.”
Now the rush has died down, and the shelves are nearly empty after Willadsen announced he will be closing the store. He said taxes became too overwhelming.
“I hate having to throw in the towel, but it’s a tough climate out there business-wise,” Willadsen said. “Taxes are brutal, but I really thought we were going to pull out of this, I thought that if we could weather this storm we might be one of the last ones standing but we’d be fine. Now I just wish all the other businesses well and hang in there, but I couldn’t any longer.”
But the money he said he saved customers was worth it.
“It sounds so trite, but you got to have something socially redeeming about what you do,” Willadsen said. “As weird as this sounds, knowing that the person that bought a dehumidifier from me saved money for their utility bills. It’s more than being in it for the money.”
As the store gets ready to close, others share their memories as well. Willadsen’s niece Andrea Eppenauer spent her childhood at the store while her father worked. She remembers spending weekends and evenings at the store, roller-skating around and making friends with the customers.
“I’m sad to see this happen,” Eppenauer said. “I’m sad for my family, but times change and God has better plans so we’ll be fine.”
Customers continue to stop by to wish Willadsen and his family well, thanking them for the good times.
“I’m going to miss not only the things here, but Carl and his people,” 15 year shopper Charles Cully said. “They’ve always taken good care of us. For people like us that work it has really helped us to raise our lifestyle a little bit to pick up these things at a price we can afford. They’ve always been friendly and visited with us and I’m just going to miss it, quite a bit.”
Willadsen said his store is a landmark and that’s exactly the way other customers described it.
“It’s a staple in this area,” customer Sky Meashintubby said. “I just wish we would have more time.”
In a couple of weeks Willadsen said he would be shutting down for the final time.
“It’s been a good ride,” Willadsen said. “We’ve made a lot of good friends, but I wish it could have hung in there a little longer.”