Country Corner Closing Up Shop

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Through the end of July, Bud and Lorraine Pruiksma are holding a half-price sale at Country Corner, the business they've operated in Payson for the past nine years. Their 50-percent sale isn't a summer sale, nor is it a chance to clear out shelves to make way for new products.

At the end of the summer, the Pruiksmas are bidding farewell to their Payson customers, their friends and the increasing cost of doing business in the Rim country.

"The rents in Payson are way too high for any small business to cope with," Lorraine said. "Since Weber's IGA left, and since the big Wal-Mart (opened), everybody's been hurting; all the businesses have gone down."

A decrease in business coupled with a $5,000-a-month rent bill, have left the couple longing for retirement.

The Pruiksmas opened their business in 1990, with just a dozen or so vendors, at the Payson Village Shopping Center. Over the years, the business grew to 40 vendors, which are now housed at the Payson Center across the highway from the original location.

With a selection of rubber stamps, hand-made knickknacks and wooden crafts, Country Corner was named "Best Craft Store" from 1995 to 1999 in the Roundup's annual Best of Payson contest. Several of the vendors at Country Corner also offer a selection of statues, signs, collectible dolls, and wind-chimes, earning it the town's "Best Gift Shop" for the past two years.

The 40 vendors inside Country Corner will either close, or try to find another place to set up shop.

"We've had customers drive to Payson from the Valley just to come to our store," Lorraine said. "We're kind of sad to be leaving, but if we tried to move our store anywhere else, we'd be paying double what we're paying now in rent."

Instead, the Pruiksmas are putting a wrap on their Rim country shop and are looking forward to retirement in Southern California.

"We'll be about one hour north of San Diego," she said. "We've got about five acres, looking down on Lake Skinner. We'll miss a lot of the people here, but we're anxious to move there."

Through the end of July, Country Corner will be open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays, with most of the stock at 50-percent off the regular price.

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