ALCO Stores, Inc. (formerly Duckwall-ALCO Stores) was a retail chain operating 198 stores in 23 states, primarily in the United States Midwest. The company was founded in 1901 in Kansas by Alva Lease Duckwall.
It had its headquarters in Coppell, Texas. The company's 352,000-square-foot (32,700 m) distribution center was located in Abilene, Kansas, where it was previously headquartered.
In October 2014, ALCO filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy; subsequently the chain was sold to a liquidation firm and closed all of its stores by March 2015.
In its early years the company operated five and dime (or "variety") stores called Duckwall's. In 1968 it began to move into the discount retail business and opened stores that were bigger than their five and dime counterparts called ALCO. ALCO stores (somewhat smaller than a non-supercenter Walmart) provide the full selection of merchandise offered by the company, while the Duckwall stores provided a limited selection.
In 1985, after three acquisitions, the company went through a management-led leveraged buy-out. The company had 127 ALCO stores, and 33 Duckwalls in 14 states at that time.
In May 1989, Duckwall-ALCO filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, emerging in 1991 after securing financing from GE Capital, its primary creditor. At least 52 stores were closed during this period. After 1989 they switched to their current business strategy of targeting communities where no direct retail competitor existed (such as Walmart, Target or Kmart). The strategy initially proved to be successful for the chain, and there were 205 ALCO stores and 59 Duckwall stores as of June 2008.
The company previously experimented with a combination discount and food store called C.O.L.A. (Cost of Living Adjusters) in Mineral Wells, Texas, which was discontinued. The company also began a supercenter concept, ALCO Market Place, by providing limited perishable goods. These stores were considerably smaller than Walmart's or Target's supercenter stores.
Duckwall-ALCO stores announced on November 29, 2010 that it will close all 44 of its Duckwall stores, thus ending the Duckwall name. The store in Hettinger, North Dakota was reopened as an ALCO while the remaining 43 stores would permanently close. Subsequently, the chain dropped the Duckwall name and renamed itself simply as ALCO Stores, Inc.
In the Fall of 2011, Duckwall-ALCO stores opened its first store in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex suburb of Grand Prairie, Texas, but closed the store in May 2014.
On April 10, 2013, ALCO Stores, Inc. moved its corporate headquarters from Abilene, Kansas, to Coppell, Texas.
On October 12, 2014, ALCO Stores Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy citing "increased competition" and "declining consumer and business confidence, which has led to decreased customer traffic and reduced levels of consumer spending, particularly on discretionary items." On November 17, bidding on the company through bankruptcy court ended with a liquidation firm joint venture, which provided a "stalking horse bid" and the only bid received by the court, being approved as the new owner.
Going out of business sales at all locations started on November 21, 2014. The last ALCO store closed in March 2015.
20 locations were acquired by Shopko, and were converted into Shopko Hometown stores. Bomgaars took over 12 former locations. Orscheln Farm & Home acquired ALCO's former distribution center in Abilene, Kansas. Other locations were acquired by various entities, either before closure or afterwards (for example, Brookshire Brothers acquired the ALCO location in Pilot Point, Texas).