One of the staples of the Village Square Mall has been the women’s clothing store Christopher and Banks.

After being founded in 1956 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the company has stores in 605 locations varying from online, retail and outlet businesses as well as their CJ Banks Company that specializes in plus-size women’s apparel.

After July 26, the number of locations will drop to 604.

"We were told in early June the store would be closing," Christopher and Banks manager Charnea Cecil said. "I have only been manager here for about a month and a half but did see that our store was not doing much business.

"Then people from the corporate office came in to check on the store and three hours later when they left, they called me to say the store would be closing in six weeks."

The issue of businesses leaving Dodge City was discussed at the recent city commissioners meeting where four of the five commissioners, commissioner Jan Scoggins was absent, discussed the importance of how to get retail stores into Dodge City.

"I rode my motorcycle to Garden City over the weekend to get a ride in," commissioner Brian Delzeit said. "When I was there I drove through the parking lot of the businesses there and was amazed to see how many vehicles from Ford County were parked there."

If there was a catchphrase that would fit commissioner Kent Smoll, it would be his frequently used, "buy local and buy often" moniker.

"I cannot stress the importance of buying local and buying often enough," Smoll said. "When stores look to Dodge City they look at the numbers to see if investing a business here will be something they can get behind.

"The only way to get those stores here is simply by buying local, and buying often."

For now, the employees of Christopher and Banks in Dodge City have to look to the future for what is best for them.

"I was offered a job at a possible Liberal location," Cecil said, "but I don’t want to live in Liberal. I grew up here and fashion has been something I have wanted to do since I was a kid.

"I loved this job and I loved the company and especially the customers. When we said we were closing we had customers cry and even become angry enough they wanted to start a petition to keep us here.

"This store offered everyone something. But I feel that if we can’t keep businesses here and bring new businesses in then this town will be a ghost town."

Calls to the corporate office of Christopher and Banks for comment were not returned.