Lewis Griswold

Lewis Griswold: Link's Men's Wear in Visalia to close, ending an era

Link's Men's and Women's Wear in Visalia is closing after 72 years as a downtown fixture.

Brothers Bob and Tom Link have spent most of their lives at the store that was started by their father on Dec. 1, 1941.

"I grew up here," said Bob, 76. He joined the business in 1959; Tom was added to the staff six years later.

Closing the store is "like giving up the family farm," said Tom, 73.

But when downtown developer Sam Sciacca offered to buy their building, with plans to convert the second story into residential units, the brothers said yes -- and the clock began ticking on the end of an era.

"It's really time to do something else," Bob said.

A "going out of business sale" will continue into January.

For years, four independently-owned men's stores graced Main Street. Shelling's, John Richard's, and McWilliams and Mosley gradually shut their doors. Link's is the last one, not only in Visalia but in Tulare County.

"Bob and I have enjoyed this immensely," Tom said.

The closure of the only traditional, full-service men's store in downtown will have a ripple effect, said Elaine Martell, operations manager at Downtown Visalians, a merchants group.

"They have a client base that everyone benefits from," she said.

The Link brothers deserve to retire after all they've done to promote downtown, but it leaves a hole in the retail landscape, said Lloyd Mosley, a downtown property owner and former clothing store owner himself.

Downtown is evolving toward offices and restaurants, but retail is the heart of a thriving downtown, so boosters must promote the competitive advantages of lower rents and foot traffic, he said.

MOM TO RESCUE: The oversized head of the Redwood Ranger mascot is still missing -- a prankster stole it -- but football mom Roxanne Reitsma made a temporary replacement in time for the annual Cowhide football game between Redwood and Mt. Whitney high schools last weekend.

Before kickoff, Redwood senior Spencer Lewis donned the Ranger mascot uniform without the head and walked into the stadium, gestured and turned back, then emerged wearing the replacement head.

"The kids on our side just went nuts," said Redwood principal Fernie Marroquin.

"I loved it," Spencer said.

Redwood took home the Cowhide by beating Mt. Whitney 35-13.

RIBBON CUTTING: The Visalia Adult Integrated Clinic and Visalia Recovery Center are open for business following a grand opening and ribbon cutting last week.

The two entities assist people who have mental illness or substance abuse issues.

Conference rooms at the clinic are named after artists who struggled with mental health but made history with their creativity, such as Vincent Van Gogh.

Operated by Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency, the clinic and center are in the redesigned former Fairway Market at Tulare Avenue and Santa Fe Street.