Galesburg family helps The Continental wrap up 120 years of clothing sales

GALESBURG, Illinois -

A landmark Galesburg men's clothing store is closing its doors soon.

The Continental, 370 E. Simmons St., traces its roots to the 1890's, but will be ringing up final sales over the next few weeks.

As owner Pat Burns, 67, answers the phone on Friday, November 11, 2016,  he's one call closer to retirement.

Burns recalls fatherly advice when he joined the store in 1971.

"The best thing about it, you're going to have the key to the front door in your pocket," he recalled.  "The worst thing about it, you've got the key to the front door in your pocket."

The store spans five generations of the Burns family and totals more than 120 years.

Now, he's making final sales with the same Golden Rule philosophy.

"I learned, especially from my dad, you've got to be nice to people," he said.  "Treat them like you like to be treated."

The mom-and-pop shop really is about family.

Reasons why Pat and Terri's three kids dropped everything from their homes in Wisconsin, North Carolina and Illinois to help out.

"You just don't see businesses that have been open this long," said Pat Burns Jr.  "It's definitely bittersweet."

They remember literally growing up in the store, building imaginary forts and playing in the basement.

"We knew where all the candy drawers were and checked them every day," added Brienne Ericson.

And, they reflect on such a warm family history in Galesburg.

"Even owning your own business, having to do that all day, every day, he still was with us for everything," said Chris Burns.  "It was great."

For shoppers, it's a mix of suits, shirts and sentiment.

They're stopping by to savor the personal attention.

"You're one of the last of the old strongholds in Galesburg," said shopper Catherine Kramer.

While history recalls simpler times, their family art stitches it together.

"A lot of stuff changes, but it stays the same, too," Pat concluded.

Measure by measure, a Continental connection with Galesburg.

The closing sale should continue for a few weeks.

For more information, call (309) 342-0016.