ALLOUEZ — A fixture in Green Bay since 1893 is closing its doors.
The F. Kaster Company, a religious goods store, is closing as soon as the remaining inventory is sold. The store, located 2204 S. Ridge Road, is holding a 50 percent off, store closing sale. The Ridge Road store opened 34 years ago and is the fourth location for the religious goods business, which started in downtown Green Bay.
Denis Kaster is the fourth generation of Kasters to work in the family business founded by his great-grandfather, Frank Kaster. He said the recession that started in 2008 took its toll on the family business.
“It was pretty much the economy,” said Kaster, who has worked in the store since 1974. “After 121 years in business, we made it through the Great Depression but we didn’t make it through this one. It’s been longer and it’s worse.”
Kaster said that the store has always had “a very loyal customer base,” from Green Bay as well as from the entire state and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Clients ranged from parishes to families.
“We’ve handled candles, refinishing metalwork, vestments — pretty much anything that’s visible in the body of the church,” Kaster said. He added that another large part of the business has been religious artwork for people’s homes.
A big seller has always been Nativity sets, especially at Christmas. Kaster said he had 55 different sets in the store when the closing sale began and “have been going through Nativity sets” since. He estimated that the store had about 20 styles of sets left in stock at press time.
“I wish (the store) could have lasted until after Christmas,” Kaster added. “It’s a hard time to be looking for employment after Christmas. Well, anytime is a hard time to be looking for work.”
There are currently three employees at the store, all members of the Kaster family.
“It’s been a very enjoyable career over the years,” Kaster said. “I’ve met a lot of wonderful people. We, the entire Kaster family, want to thank all of our loyal customer base and our many great friends. This community has been wonderful to us over the years and they will be sorely missed.”
Kaster himself will be looking for employment after Christmas. He doesn’t know “what pathway will open up” for him, but knows he can trust God to provide. After 40 years in the religious good business, doing the Lord’s work, he knows it’s best to simply say, “I’m sure he’ll take care of me.”
During its closing sale, Kaster’s hours will be Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.