A century-old Elgin sporting goods store will close its doors for good Wednesday, following the beloved owner?s loss to cancer Monday.
The longtime businesswoman, die-hard Democrat and Janice Joplin fanatic put a local face to national issues. But the store was hit hard with depressed economy, causing Keeney to cut back staff and cancel her health insurance, right before she fell sick and needed to be hospitalized.
Gentry Jones is fought to keep the store going while his friend was fighting cancer.
"Now that Pat's passed, we've decided that it's time to let the family come in and, you know, if they want to keep it going, they'll keep it going, but I've got to move on," he said.
The sporting goods shop was a family tradition that Keeney carried on for decades. From its inception in 1883 as a drug store to its rebirth in 1945 as a sporting goods store, and today with its antiques, the store and its owner were fixtures in Elgin.
"She was kind of an oracle of sorts, too. I guess you would compare it to the barber shop of the old days. You'd come in here and you'd talk things through with her and, you know, she gave you a background that you needed, which was nice," said Laurie Faith.
Keeney’s was the store that that local students and athletes went for equipment and gear, sold with personal service and care.
Local business owners, like restaurateur Pietro Verone, appreciated Keeney’s community commitment so much that he will be hosting a party at his restaurant Villa Verone in her honor Thursday.
"We're going to do some Janis Joplin music, which was one of her favorite artists and we're going to talk about Pat," he said.
Even in its final hours of business Wednesday, Keeney’s was alive with costumers looking for one last bit of Keeney’s history and to see the doors close one last time.
"You can never close a loved-one's chapter. It's always in your heart," said Matt West. "As long as you keep them in your heart, they will live on forever. And that's what Pat was always about."