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Nelson’s Variety Stores will close their Racine and Caledonia stores and readers commented how they will miss everything from the creaking floor to the rotating holiday section.

Jeff Nelson, who owns the stores, told the reporter he hopes to be closed by the end of February. The reason for the closures: 61-year-old Nelson wants to retire. Over the years the store has sold everything from birthday cards to gym uniforms to candy. He’s also known for his assortment of Packers party favors and novelty items.

So we asked our readers on our Racine County Eye Facebook page what they will miss the most.

Readers Respond To Nelson’s Variety Stores Closing:

Jude Treleven: “What will I miss most? Besides the fact that they always had what I was looking for, it was always comforting to visit the store. It took me back to a kinder and simpler time in Racine. It took me back to Snyder’s Dime Store, Hansen’s Drug Store and Christiano’s Italian Market all within my Southside neighborhood. Nelson’s closing signifies the death of mom and pop stores and it is sad.”

Connie Thompson: “The memories….buying a pretty little hankey for mom on her birthday or a cup and saucer for her collection. Finding the “perfect” something for only a few $$…when I rode my bike over with my weekly allowance. The rotating holiday decorations available. The sound of the creaky floors at the store on Washington….
Best wishes to you Nelson’s. You will be missed by many!”

Pam Hillmer Marquie: “We come back to WI every year to visit family and always go to Nelsons. I’ll miss walking the wooden floors of the Washington Ave. store, using the old canvas baskets, and shopping the unique items. It survived when other dime store chains closed and it will be missed.”

Todd Stevenson: “I will miss these stores, especially the one on Washington Avenue. It’s one of those stores that have so many items for a good price. Not many of those type of stores around anymore.”

Nancy Feiner: “I grew up in that area and have many great memories of the stores there. I’ve wondered when Nelson’s would go out of business and that sad day has come. I will truly miss the Washington Avenue store where I could find what I was looking for….and more. I will miss that store and always have fond memories even into my adulthood for many years. Best wishes for your retirement; enjoy, relax, have fun! 👏👏👏👏”

Mary Kay Pierce: “If you couldn’t find it (any novelty item) there, then you’re at a loss. Sad times for my hometown. 😰”

Julie Burdick: “Will be just another empty building Racine is a dying town Nelsons dime store brings back memories of when my firstborn would take his allowance and we would go there simple times.”

Darlene McGee: “The old wooden floors that creaked when you walked on them. All the little oddities you couldn’t find anywhere else. The memories from my grade school days of my girlfriend and I going there to get our embroidery squares.”

Jenni Chap: “I will miss walking through the store and the floors would creak. The nickel and dime trinkets. Walking through the skinny middle aisle and seeing things I had always been looking for and didn’t know where to get them. A piece of Racine will close when the store closes. I wish there was a way to keep it open.”

Jane Stefanich: “Sad! I have many fond childhood memories, especially beading and other crafts. Painting the windows for Halloween. Brought my five kids there to walk on the old wooden floors and so many things you couldn’t find elsewhere.”

Christine Steiner: “Holiday decorations, cool things in the toy bins, candy at the register, the smiles & helpful ladies in store, the creaky floors on Washington and those awesome canvas baskets so many great memories to thank you for Nelsons! We will miss you!!”


Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.