Friends and coffee-drinking buddies plan a 75th birthday celebration open house for retired McCook business owner and former McCook City Council member Dick Mitchell of McCook on Sunday, Jan. 24, from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m., in the Community Building on the Red Willow County fairgrounds, in the 1500 block of West Fifth, McCook.
Organizers ask that cards of well wishes include memories of Dick, about his three downtown stores or about his service to the community as a member of the city council from December 1990 to November 1998.
Mitchell came to McCook in 1977, having chosen McCook to open a Ben Franklin franchise. Dick said recently he was an assistant district manager for Coats and Clark thread company in Los Angeles, and was concerned he would have to relocate to the East.
He decided instead to strike out on his own, and leased the former Hested's dime store in the 100 block of West C, and then expanded into the former J.M. McDonald department store next door to the west. He then opened a pet and hardware store in the former Gamble's store in the 200 block of West C and a craft and sewing store in the former Woolworth's dime store in the 200 block of Norris Avenue.
Dick remembers the best-selling item during his retail career in McCook was "Cabbage Patch Dolls" in the early to mid-1980s. "I could have a list of a thousand people waiting for them," he told friends gathered at Paul Wood's and Phil Lyons' downtown law office for coffee one recent cold winter morning. "Cabbage Patch dolls ... couldn't get enough of 'em," he mused.
He remembers too, that he sold GE televisions -- "black and white ... the biggest was 24 inches maybe."
Dick said they also sold lots of shoes and sandals, "but that was before the day of $150 tennis shoes."
Dick retired from the retail business in late 2006, but still stops by for coffee with friends and downtown businessmen, including the sons of coffee buddies now gone.
Cards in celebration of Dick's birthday can be mailed to 806 W. Fourth, McCook, NE 69001.