ST. CLOUD -- Its been nearly two weeks since the news broke that Herberger's parent company was going out of business and closing all of their stores. As the store goes through the liquidation process and sells off all of its merchandise, it is the longtime employees that will be missed the most.

Ann Thelen of St. Joseph is one of the sales managers at the downtown St. Cloud store. She has worked there for 31 years. She says she's seen a lot of changes in the department store over the years.

A restaurant, we had a card shop, another store.  I moved our shoe department, it used to be more toward the middle of the store.

Thelen says it's the friendships she's made with her co-workers and customers that kept her at the store over the years.

We've had a lot of fun.  I've met some of my very best friends here.  I guess it must have been fun because we've stayed so long.

Thelen says a favorite memory is the cookbook giveaways they used to do on Thanksgiving.

Debbie Lorette of St. Cloud has worked at the downtown department store for 32 years. She is now in the accessories department and says she has met a lot of great friends at the store.

As a matter of fact, a couple of my friends that I go out with I met here.  They started shopping when I started working and we just became friends.

Lorette says the news of the store closing has been just as hard on her loyal customers as it is on her. She thinks her customers are probably a bit more loyal because the downtown store is more of a destination location.

Yes, I do.  They had to make an effort to go downtown.  So it was important for them to actually come to Herberger's and shop.

Lorette says she and her co-workers have always taken great pride in their customer service.

Carol Truenow of Sauk Rapids has worked at the department store for 33 years. She says she started in alterations when Herberger's still had a bridal shop. She says the customers will be missed

A lot of them come in and say they are very sad.  Just yesterday I had a customer come in and say she had a thank you for me, and she put her phone number in there so we could stay in touch.

We don't know yet how long the store will stay open, but the longtime employees like Truenow say they plan to continue to take pride in their store to the very end.

Just keep a good attitude. We are still representing our store.  You can't be crabby because it was nothing in our power.

A closing date for the Herberger's stores has not been announced, but court documents say all stores are to be closed no later than Aug. 31.

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