After 76 years, iconic downtown Corbin business Maggie J’s is closing its doors.
The last day of business will be Saturday, March 10.
Owner Maxine VonGruenigen, who has worked at the store founded by her aunt Maggie J. and uncle Roy Wyrick on Feb. 19, 1942, said she is in good health, but that it is time for her to go do something else.
“I’m not doing this because I have problems or owe money,” VonGruenigen said of closing the store. “I just thought it is time to give it up.”
The 88-year-old said she began working at the store when she was just 15.
VonGruenigen said, at that time, she had been asked about stocking shelves for another store during the Christmas season.
“When I did that, Aunt Maggie said, ‘If you can stock for that store, you can work in my store,’” VonGruenigen said.
At 15, VonGruenigen needed a state work permit to work in the store.
“When that worker’s permit came, I thought, ‘I have arrived. This is where I want to be!’” VonGruenigen said, explaining she worked at the store during all of the holidays.
When Roy Wyrick died, Maggie J. and VonGruenigen were left to run the store.
VonGruenigen said while she will miss the store, she plans to remain in Corbin and remain involved in the community.
“I’ll be everywhere,” VonGruengen said. “I’m not going to sit home.”
While VonGruenigen and her husband, Eldred, have already traveled extensively, she said they have two great grandchildren that she would like to spend more time with.
“We have a lot to do,” VonGruenigen said.
Whatever she does, VonGruenigen said the one thing she will be is happy.
“I don’t know of a time in my life when I wasn’t happy,” VonGruenigen said.
“I have had a happy life. I never got tired of going to that store and dealing with people,” she said. “It was cut out for me.
One of VonGruenigen’s closest neighbors and best friends, Betty Comer, owns Gibson’s Music, located next door to Maggie J’s.
“It is indeed a challenging task to attempt to describe Maxine in a couple paragraphs,” Comer said. “Her love and dedication for Corbin is most assuredly unmatched by anybody I have ever met.”
“When she and Lorene Hodge put their heads together they were unstoppable,” Comer added. “ Among their many accomplishments were Nibroc, Octoberfest and Christmas Open house. Maxine is the doyenne of ladies clothing. Having served four generations, she is the master of merchandising.”
I have known Maxine for over 70 years. She is caring, compassionate, inspiring and a true friend. We have been business neighbors for 35 of my 49 years. This block will never be the same without Maxine and Tonya (Marcum).”
“To Maxine I will say, ‘Enjoy your retirement and my best wishes to you and Eldred. Thanks for your glowing personality and the tremendous impact you have had on our town. God bless you and much love!’” Comer said
Corbin Main Street Manager Andy Salmons, who owns You & Me Coffee & Tea on Main Street, said VonGruenigen is one of the reason’s downtown Corbin is flourishing.
“None of us doing business on Main Street would be here without her. For decades she led the fight of preserving and promoting our Downtown and paved the way for so many others to join her,” Salmons said.
“I’ve had such a pleasure working with Maxine during my time as Main street manager and am so appreciative of all the hard work she’s done both in her own business and with local events. Maxine’s presence downtown and her dress shop will be deeply missed but her legacy will continue long after Maggie J’s shuts its doors,” he said.