Some question future of businesses near closing Dillons store

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WICHITA -- As Dillons plans to shut down two stores in Wichita this month, some question what it means for the community.

"It makes us wonder what's going to happen to the shopping mall," said Ethan Edwards. "If the main thing is closing -- Dillons -- cause that's the biggest thing we've got in the mall."

Edwards has worked the past three years at Elite Cleaners, located next to the Dillons at 13th and Woodlawn. It's one of the locations closing.

"We're all like a little family," he said. "We even know everybody at the Dillons, most of all them that have been there for a while."

People have seen big changes to the area in recent years.

A McDonald's, located across the street from the Dillons, shut down last year. It had been at the location for 40 years.

"Well, to have that hole right over there with McDonald's, I used to go there every morning for coffee, so to lose that and now to lose this, it's a big blow to our neighborhood," said resident Don Landis. "Dillons... it's a great neighborhood store. It's got the best customer service, the best staff. We're really heartbroken, my wife and I. They're closing our store."

Change is inevitabe, said Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer. He said big-box stores like McDonald's, Wal-Mart, Dillons and Quik Trip often make changes.

In the 1990's, Brewer said a Dillon's location planned to close in north Wichita, but many people wanted it to stay. Activists and the city worked to keep it open a little longer.

"We're working with them and they agreed to stay open, they did shrink the size of the store, but they went ahead and stayed there," he said.

Though the Dillons did eventually close its doors, Brewer said he's grateful the stores today are extending work for employees to stay with the company. Now, the city will do what it can to help the area move forward.

"We're always trying to get businesses to grow and move into our communities, open up a lot of different things, and you're going to see a lot more here in the very near future," Brewer said.

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