Biz Buzz Tuesday: Dubuque clothing store closing; financial firm rebrands; longtime clothier changes hands

Four Seasons will be closing its Kennedy Mall store by the end of April, a mall spokesman confirmed. PHOTO CREDIT: Dave Kettering

Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from the tri-states. This week, we highlight multiple developments in Dubuque.

Two years after opening its doors in the Dubuque mall, a women’s clothing store is planning to close.

Four Seasons recently posted in-store signage indicating that its closure was imminent.

Reached by telephone last week, owner Katie Kutsunis declined to comment. However, Kennedy Mall spokesman Joe Bell confirmed that the store’s run soon will end.

“They are going out of business and will be closing by the end of April,” he said. “It is unfortunate. This has been a difficult time for all businesses, especially the smaller businesses that don’t have the deep resources that large chains do.”

Four Seasons was founded in Geneseo, Ill., in the 1960s. According to the store’s website, the Dubuque location is one of three in Iowa. It also has four in Illinois.

The news isn’t all bad at the mall, however.

Bell confirmed that officials recently secured a “long-term extension” of J.C. Penney’s lease in the mall. He said he could not disclose the specific length of the extension.

In May, J.C. Penney became one of the largest retailers to file for protection in bankruptcy court. Bell said the lease extension was finalized in conjunction with bankruptcy proceedings.

“I think this deal brings a greater margin of stability both for J.C. Penney and for the mall itself,” Bell said.

FINANCIAL services COMPANY REBRANDS

A Dubuque-based financial institution has launched a comprehensive rebranding campaign.

Heartland Financial USA is changing its brand to HTLF, which has served as the company’s stock ticker symbol since 1981.

Chief Marketing Officer Laura Hughes said the company’s new moniker will set it apart from others in the sector.

“In the financial services industry, there are quite a few companies called Heartland,” she said. “We didn’t want to be confused with others.”

Heartland Financial had assets of $17.91 billion at the end of 2020, according to the company’s most recent earnings report. At that time, it had 142 banking locations in 102 communities spanning a dozen states across the U.S.

Much of the company’s recent growth has occurred in the west and southwest United States, a phenomenon that also factored into the rebranding.

“People hear ‘Heartland’ and think of the Midwest,” said Hughes. “Our company now is much broader than just being a Midwest company. Over half of our assets are outside the Midwest”

As part of the rebranding effort, the large “Heartland Financial USA” sign has been removed from the side of the company’s operating center on Central Avenue. The company also installed new window screens, facing Central Avenue, to reflect the branding change to HTLF.

Signage outside the Roshek Building, where Heartland also has sizable office space, will be updated, too, Hughes said.

While the customer-facing brand is changing, Hughes noted that the company’s legal name will remain the same.

NEW OWNER AT MENSWEAR BUSINESS

A new chapter is underway for a longtime formal wear business in downtown Dubuque.

Local business owner Cally Burkle recently purchased Gordon’s Toggery, as well as the building in which it resides at 177 Main St. Burkle owns B-1 Yoga, which has occupied the storefront beside Gordon’s Toggery since 2014.

After seven years in close proximity, Burkle has gained a deep appreciation for the business.

“It is a staple in the community,” she said. “Multiple generations of local residents have shopped there and rented a tux for a prom or a wedding.”

Gordon’s Toggery rents tuxedos, suits and a variety of other menswear. Under the new ownership, the focus and the name of the business will remain the same.

Burkle aims to modernize certain aspects of the business. For instance, the previous owners tracked inventory through handwritten records in notebooks; Burkle plans to introduce software that can keep track of such things.

“We are looking forward to giving (the business) new life and bringing it into the 21st century,” she said. “But we are also going to pull in as much history as we can.”

The origins of the business date back to the early 1900s, when it was still known as Plass Toggery. It was renamed Gordon’s Toggery in 1952.

The business was sold to Gary Kempthorne in 1969. Around the same time, it relocated to 177 Main St., where it has remained for a half-century.

Over time, Burkle became close to Gary and his wife, Dina.

“They would take in my packages. We would shovel each other’s sidewalks. We would just look out for each other,” she said. “We’ve been great neighbors and great friends.”

After Gary died in 2019, the family began contemplating the future of the business. Now, Burkle is happy to carry on that tradition.

She will continue to operate B-1 Yoga and is excited to be at the helm of two businesses in the Lower Main Street district.

Gordon’s Toggery can be reached at 563-582-5288. It is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.