Rural Discount Center to close its doors
Rural Discount Center has provided reduced-priced goods to local residents for three decades. The Chugiak store carried everything from toilet paper to pallets of rice to furniture.
After 29 years, RDC is closing its doors.
The store’s closure is due to policy changes by its suppliers, said owner Randy Lemmens. All the items RDC purchased in the past are now being shipped to Seattle, he said.
Instead of being able to buy goods from Anchorage, Lemmens would have to ship them from the Lower 48 — which he said is too expensive.
Another change came in March when stores stopped selling torn bags of products like rice and sugar, which RDC sold by the pallet, said Lemmens’ wife, Karen.
Randy and Karen have been the managers of RDC nearly the entire time it’s been open. They started managing it in 1987 and purchased the store from original owners Bill and Dixie Waddell in 2005.
Seeing the store close is tough, Bill Waddell said.
“It was kind of our baby,” he said. “We started it from scratch.”
When Bill and Dixie first opened the store 29 years ago, they stocked it with returned products and seasonal items on sale from stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, Fred Meyer and Carrs.
“We’d buy it cheap and sell it cheap,” Bill said.
Owning RDC was never boring, Bill said.
“Every week was different,” he said. “You never knew what you were going to have.”
The store was a huge benefit to local residents, Karen said, which makes closing down so difficult.
“It’s really hard coming to work,” she said. “People are devastated.”
So are the Lemmenses.
“It’s not what we want to do, either,” Randy said.
Running RDC was so much more than just selling goods to customers, Karen said. They saw children grow up into adults and bring their children into the store.
“We know everyone,” Karen said.
RDC patrons have been beyond supportive since hearing of the store’s closure, Karen said.
“This place is emptying out like crazy,” she said.
Located on the Old Glenn Highway across from Loretta French Park, Rural Discount Center’s last day of business will be Sunday, Dec. 22.
After that, Randy said he and Karen will take some time to figure out what’s next.
Though saddened by the closure, Karen said she and Randy are staying positive.
“Everything happens for a reason,” she said. “Something good will come of this.”
Chugiak is home to the “nicest people you’ll ever meet,” Karen said, which is what made working at RDC for 26 years so enjoyable.
“It’s just been a pleasure to be here.”
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or [email protected].