RANDSBURG, Calif. (KERO) — A landmark in eastern Kern County that's been open for more than a century is getting ready to close its doors for good. In California’s living ghost town of Randsburg lies a general store full of history and memories.
The Randsburg General Store is not only a restaurant and store but it's also a piece of history providing a snapshot of California’s mining days. Beyond that, owner Brad Myers says it's also a family. And that’s why they are devastated to be closing in the coming weeks.
“Guys like me that are only open 14 to 15 hours a week can’t survive with the high rents and the cost of operating.”
That’s the reality for Myers. He’s owned the Randsburg General Store for six years but recently he says it's been difficult to stay afloat.
“It's been a rough two years with the whole COVID thing, and now with the new administration in, it's making it harder on small businesses to survive. The cost of operating has literally tripled in the last year.”
And that’s why in mid-August Myers announced the iconic store location will be closing and downsizing. This has left people who grew up visiting the store emotional.
“I felt sad for them because, I mean, I know what those people are going through. It's one of those things that have been part of my life for 60 years or better,” said customer Jeffery Wadsworth.
Amy Brown adds that the store is a unique local spot you won’t find anywhere else.
“My heart broke. I felt like I needed to rush to get there and visit them one last time. I think its an awesome place. There’s nowhere in Kern County where you can actually sit down and sit down at a bar that’s 118 years old and enjoy an ice cream or whatever you decide to have.”
But for many like Brown and Wadsworth, it's about the memories.
“It’s a nostalgia thing for me because it’s a part of what I grew up with and my son," added Wadsworth. "He’s now in his 40’s and he still does the same thing with his kids.”
Myers says customers have told him what continuing the legacy of the store means to them. That’s why people from across the nation are coming together to try and help.
“The outpouring of support has just overwhelmed me and my wife.”
Wadsworth says he hopes this piece of history won’t become just that.
“It’s a part of Southern California. It would be a shame if it goes away.”
If the store can not stay open the doors will officially close, and they will move into another store – The Vault – in mid-October.