Grand Opening Photo from 1974

Fourth Generations remains a downtown Harlan stalwart

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HARLAN, Iowa (WOWT) -- This holiday season many shoppers let their fingers do the walking, and those record internet sales forced some brick and mortar businesses out of business. But there’s a little dress shop in Harlan, Iowa that represents four generations of retail sales.

Marty Beno was born into the retail business. The same cabinet in a picture from her first birthday now sits in her women’s fashion store in Harlan, Iowa.

All of this started in 1866 her great, great Uncle John Beno opened the family’s first store in Council Bluffs on First Street. It grew into a major department store in downtown Council Bluffs. Now, Marty Beno Burchette represents the fourth generation of Beno’s in the retail business. She calls her place the Fourth Generation.

“Stores like this have disappeared in the cities because of the big stores the big boxes the chains stores. It’s really hard for them to exist in a bigger metropolitan area,” said Marty.

This store has been here in Harlan for 43 years. Marty moved her Harlan business into the old Shelby County Bank. She keeps her inventory in the old bank vault. The Fourth Generation is a popular shop in Harlan. Marty says their customer service fights off the internet competition.

“Well, I think that clothing is a more touchy feely business people want to see the color, feel the fabric and try it on,” she said. “We help our customers find things that they're wanting we listen to what they ask for and I know my customer.”

There is a lot of family tradition in Marty’s Store. This store window looks just like her father’s store window years ago.

“Those little choir angels were in my dad’s store in Council Bluffs. We think they are from about the 1950's,” Marty said.

The Beno family retail tradition will end with the fourth generation; Marty is not grooming anyone to be generation number five.

“No, unfortunately I‘m not. I have two sons that are both doctors so I’m sure they're not going to run and become retailers so,” she said. “You know everything runs its course and we've had a good run.”

The Fourth Generation is up and running open six days a week.

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