Barkan’s leaves a family legacy of success in Rock Island

ROCK ISLAND - Steve Barkan, 75, is on the move. For him, success depends on flexibility.

"That's the secret," he said, on Monday, May 1. "You've got to change."

That's why his favorite era is a big stretch for the longtime clothier.

"That hip-hop thing was really a lot of fun," he remembered.

So much fun that while preparing to close his store at 1709 2nd Ave., Rock Island, he's thinking about the late 1990's.

"It was just the birth of something that exploded on the scene," he said.

Now, after 71 years of keeping up with the trends, Barkan's will be closing in coming weeks. Its going out of business sale begins at 9 a.m., on Tuesday, May 1.

Steve, who worked more than a half-century of six-day weeks, is ready for grandchildren and golf.

"It's definitely the end of an era," said Rachel Barkan, one of his three daughters.

Rachel, who remembers as a child getting Doublemint gum from her grandfather at the store, literally grew up in the business.

"This has really been our life," she recalled.  "I get emotional thinking about it."

Those lessons from her dad at Barkan's are still with her each day in her sports marketing career.

"My sisters and I really learned from him at a young age what it meant to be dedicated to something and really give it your all," she said.

While the store survived many ups-and-downs, good years and bad, it remains extremely tough for a Mom-and-Pop these days.

"There's risk, and it's there," Steve said.

The store's remaining four employees will be selling everything, including the fixtures and building, in coming weeks.

"It's kind of tough to see it all go," Rachel said.

As customers watch preparations from the window, a bittersweet farewell awaits.

They're thinking about Mac and Pearl Barkan, who started it all back in 1946.

Over the years, the store operated at four locations, all within two blocks in downtown Rock Island. It's been at the current location since 1991.

"It makes me really, really proud to be his daughter, for sure," Rachel said.

A final sale to mark a lasting legacy for Barkan's in Rock Island.

"It's been rewarding," Steve concluded.  "It's been a good career."