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Downtown shop packs it in

Broadway Mercantile closes after 17 years of service to community

After a long run selling candy bars, sodas, sandwiches and cigarettes to people who work in and frequent downtown Medford, Broadway Mercantile at Park Place is closing its doors.

The tiny store, tucked away on West Main Street at Grape, has been selling its inventory this week and is set to close by week's end.

Denny Lantz, who bought the business a few weeks short of 17 years ago, sold it to Linda Gordon of Medford last week.

Gordon says she plans to remodel the space, which is all of 10 feet, 8 inches by 13 feet. She plans to reopen it with her daughter Kristi later this month under the name Hole in the Wall. It'll still feature convenience items like cigarettes and candy bars, but she'll add a fountain soda machine and feature homemade sandwiches.

Lantz and employee Arlene Botkin, who's worked there 13 years, say many of the store's customers were shocked to hear the store was closing. He says he's always tried to meet their needs, adding as many things they've requested as he could and fostering long-term relationships.

We have the charge accounts and know everyone by name, he says. Sometimes they'll just walk by, pick up a newspaper and hold it up and we'll charge the account.

We've spoiled them, Botkin adds, noting that the customers range from lawyers and business professionals to Medford Hotel residents to homeless people.

Lantz says the business has done well over the years, though increased competition has taken its toll. But he says the need for a change of pace was the driving force behind the sale.

It's time to move on and do something else, he says.

Lantz, 59, also works as a square-dance caller and clog instructor, activities he plans to continue. He's also considering a business offering to help people learn how to use home computers.

Lantz put the business up for sale quietly in May, doing nothing more than posting a sign in the window. He was just about to expand the search for a buyer when Gordon approached him about it.

He says he's looking forward to moving on but knows he'll miss the quaint little shop at least as much as his customers will.

I don't think it's going to hit them or me for awhile, he says.

Owner Denny Lantz and longtime employee Arlene Botkin are cleaning out the Broadway Mercantile at Park Place, a downtown Medford fixture that is closing this week. - Photo by Steve Johnson