How one of Mount Vernon's oldest businesses has changed through the years

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MOUNT VERNON, Iowa (KCRG) - KCRG-TV9's begins its 2019 Our Town series begins with Mount Vernon and a look at retail history.

One of the businesses in the downtown area has been around longer than any person who lives in Mount Vernon: Bauman's and Company.

"It's just a great community to do business in. Our customers are loyal, and it all just sorta works," said owner Mike Smith.

In fact, it works so well that Bauman's and Company has been selling men's clothing in Mount Vernon for 110 years, all in the same location.

But there have been changes.

"In the last few years, we've had to make some adjustments in how we do business," said Smith. "We've added ladies, and we're going to improve that or increase that this fall."

Another change is slim fit clothing for today's young men.

"We embraced that about three or four years ago, and it's continued to grow," he said. "It's brought a lot of young people into our store, which was needed, and that's been a real boost."

But down below Bauman's, work takes a back seat.

"What goes on downstairs? You really want to know? Downstairs we have a group of gentlemen," Smith said. "I call it adult daycare. I think their wives should send me a stipend every month for taking care of these guys."

These guys are a group of men who come in every morning for coffee in Bauman's basement. Many are retired, and some have been coming here for decades, sharing memories, stories and a lot of laughs.

"I think everyone in the community thinks they solve all the problems in Mount Vernon and the world," Smith said. "They create more problems than they solve."

One problem retail businesses face today is the competition that comes from online sales.

Smith recognizes that, but he also believes the personal service his store offers is something that will always keep Bauman's customers coming back.

"I think people still want to come in. They still want to be waited on. They want a good product at a fair price. And I don't think that equation's ever gonna change," he said.