Business feted for 28 years of service to community

Gretchen Wagner (right), president of the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce, presents a plaque of appreciation to Cora Friesen, general manager of Quick Flick/Radio Shack, and her daughter and longtime co-worker Adri Bechtold, in recognition of 28 years of creativity and customer service. The business closed its doors this fall.Don Ratzlaff / Free Press? Corporate decision led to closure.

In the end, it was a decision by corporate America that ended the 28-year run of one of Hillsboro?s most popular downtown businesses.

But that doesn?t mean the impact and customer service Quick Flick/Radio Shack provided for almost three decades will soon be forgotten.

Last week, Hillsboro Development Corp. and the Hillsboro Chamber of Com?merce presented general manager Cora Friesen and her family a plaque recognizing the business?s 28 years of ?outstanding service to the Hillsboro community.?

?The people and employees?that?s what was important for me,? said Friesen, who served as general manager for the entire tenure of the store. ?It was a pleasure to be in this community. If it hadn?t been for you, we wouldn?t have had our business for 28 years.?

A growing business

Marv Schellenberg, a land developer in Wichita who is a Hillsboro native and Friesen?s brother-in-law, opened the business at 109 S. Main in May 1986.

Quick Flick sold TVs and VCRs and rented VHS movies.

?They started out with 300 VHS tapes, which they labeled and priced on Cora?s kitchen table,? Clint Seibel, HDC executive director, said in his prepared remarks. ?The question they had at that time was, ?Can we make it??

Twenty-eight years later, Seibel noted that Quick Flick closed with 3,000 DVDs in stock.

Seibel highlighted the entrepreneurial nature of the business through the decades.

?As technology changed, they had to continually reinvent themselves and diversify in order to keep the business prosperous,? he said. ?They sold popcorn and rented games for Nintendo and Saga. They also rented portable VCRs.?

Through the years, Quick Flick did business at four different locations on the Main Street of Hillsboro, and expanded into Marion and Lindsborg for a few years.

In 1997, the business was moved to North Main to accommodate a business that had grown to include Radio Shack, Hallmark Cards, tanning beds and dry cleaning drop-off as well as the video rentals and Direct TV.

In 2005, Quick Flick was moved to its final location at the corner of Main and Grand ?and became one of the prominent business locations in Hillsboro,? Seibel said. ?We are going to miss having a Main Street store with lights on until late into the evening.?

Seibel also highlighted the importance of customer services as a key to the store?s success.

?I can say from experience that Cora, her daughter Adri, and the many people who worked for them served their customers well,? he said. ?It was a pleasure to go in for something because you knew you would be greeted with a smile and helped with whatever need you had.?

Seibel also mentioned the many employees who were hired through the years.

?She showed me a list of 60 people she had written down,? Seibel said. ?A lot of her employees were high school and college students who became extended family.

?For some, Quick Flick was their first job, which led to other opportunities,? he added. ?The products and services they offered were important, but people were the most important.?

Corporate decisions

The beginning of the end of the business occurred not long after Verizon Wireless acquired Alltel Wireless, the cellular service provider Quick Flick had served as a local dealership for several years.

Initially, the transition to the new provider seemed to work well, but the relationship didn?t last for long.

Friesen was informed by a company representative that Verizon?s footprint was changing from small-town, mom-and-pop dealerships to online customer service. She was given a 30-day notice, and the relationship officially ended Oct. 1, 2013.

The impact was decisive, first for the loss of revenue the store had been generating through phone-related sales and customer service.

?Without looking at the actual dollars, the income we made from Verizon covered most of our employee costs,? Friesen said. ?It was a pretty big deal.?

The second, somewhat unexpected impact, was the accompanying decrease in foot traffic in the store.

?It trickled down to all aspects of the business,? Friesen said. ?We could have hung on and limped along longer, but the timing felt right. It just wasn?t profitable to do that.?

Friesen said she has made peace with the decision and is ready to see what the future may hold.

?In a way I?m proud that we hung on for as long as we did,? she said about the Verizon transition. ?My rep told me one time he thought there were only two other dealers in Kansas that were single-door stores like ours.

?The others had been consumed or bought or had closed their business and didn?t survive after Verizon purchased Alltel.?

Friesen said she will miss interacting her customers and employees the most.

?We opened this business to serve people,? she said. ?It was all about the people.?

Written By
More from Don Ratzlaff
Hillsboro teams sweep Nickerson to open the season
Hillsboro opened the new basketball season with a pair of double-digit wins...
Read More