Indiana town struggling to survive economic downturn


by Chelsea Rabideau

Posted on October 14, 2012 at 11:52 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 15 at 12:00 AM

MEDORA, Ind. (WHAS11) -- The next presidential debate is coming up on Tuesday and for months, the candidates have been storming down the campaign trail, slinging buzzwords like "jobs" and "the economy." But, for one small Indiana town, it's more than just words. The loss of jobs and downfall of the economy is a painful reality.

Medora, Ind. was once fed by thriving factories and mills. Now, the population is dwindling and some fear soon, it will disappear all together.

"I think everybody struggles a little bit over here because it's just, it's just kind of a dying town. You can just see it all around you," explains Rita Bowman who owns a grocery store in town. She owns the old Randy's Market Hardware building on the corner of Main and Perry in the heart of town. For years, she's run her grocery store and deli there. The kind of business where you're more family than customer and when times are tough, help is never far away.

It was really a fun, fun place to be. And I love it, I love my building, everything, but, just can't survive anymore," she says. It's another reminder that without factory jobs, there's very little left for the people of Medora to cling to.

"I hate to see all the little mom and pop places go," she says, "Because to me, that's what made this country what it is. Not the big business that's destroyed us."

The woman who owns the liquor store next door is struggling with the closure of Rita's store.

"I had three women sitting outside today. I said, 'Girls, if I start crying it's not going to be nothing you said or did. It's going to be knowing that today is Rita's last day.'"

She's lived in Medora all her life. But, so much has changed.

"Kids played and our parents worked and our grandparents worked and we worked and we played and we worked and we played. It was not a dying town then. And now it's just, every day I say what did they do, put up a closed sign on each end of town?" she explains. "We're dying. We're literally dying."

Rita shut her deli awhile back. The store shelves are nearly bare. This week, with her granddaughter to keep her company, Rita closed up shop for the very last time. She says she hopes to open another business someday, maybe a pizza shop, but it won't be in Medora.