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Skull Valley General Store closing this month

SKULL VALLEY, Ariz. -- After nearly 100 years of service, the historic Skull Valley General Store is closing its doors.

Owners Archy and Laurica McDonald have been running the store for the past 19 years.

"It's been good, but the economy has dropped off too much and the revenue isn't there," Archy McDonald said. "The volume of business is down considerably. It doesn't look like the economy will be picking up anytime soon."

"The revenue is down, but the expenses don't go down," he added.

The McDonalds are considering working with Surplus Asset Management Auctions out of Phoenix to sell the entire property. The auction company works with grocery stores and restaurants across the country to sell either the entire business or pieces of commercial equipment.

"We are hopeful that somebody will come along and buy the store and keep it the same," Archy McDonald said. "It's certainly not a necessity for the community, but it is a great convenience."

The property includes the store as well as a house that sits on just over three-quarters of an acre, Archy McDonald said. Both the store and connected house total about 4,500 square-feet.

Yavapai County Board of Supervisors Chairman Rowle Simmons was surprised to hear word of the store's closing. Simmons is the town's supervisor.

"I was just singing their praises the other day. Archy has done a heck of a job with the store," Simmons said. "I'm sad to hear that they are closing."

A handful of disheartened community members and visitors to the town posted their thoughts on the store's Facebook page:

"Heavy hearts just reading that, we know you guys have poured yourselves into the store and your beautiful community! Praying for the perfect buyer to continue the legacy of connectedness you and your staff have built for nearly two decades," wrote Dayna Hardee.

"This is a hidden icon," posted Randy Kane. "My grandfather Ray Contreras would stop and get us ice cream from the store in the summers when I was a kid. Pray it turns out for everyone's sake! Love this place."

According to the Skull Valley Historical Society, E.K. Dutcher built the general store in 1916. Dutcher ran the store until he sold it to John and Violet Warren in 1925. Violet Warren continued to run the store even after the death of her husband and subsequent remarriage. In 1962, after 39 years of owning the historic general store, Warren Irving sold the business to Bob and Mary Kukal. The Kukals manned the counter until 1979 when they sold it to another couple, Bill and June Moody. After the Moodys, the store changed hands four times before being purchased by Archy and Laurica McDonald in late December 1994.

In addition to selling grocery and feed items, the town's post office was located in the store. A severe flood in 1983 forced the post office to move out of the store and open up down the street.

The store's closing at the end of January will be the first time the town has been without a general store since the business opened in 1916.

"It's a hard decision to make. To have invested 19 years and to be able to turn loose of it hasn't been easy," Archy McDonald said. "But it's time."

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