By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — Loyal customers will have only a few more days to shop at one of the area’s retail landmarks.
Dollar Bill’s Discount World will close its doors this month and is now offering big discounts to move the merchandise out of the 133 Rockingham Road store.
The official closing date is Aug. 12.
Last fall, owner “Dollar Bill” Burke announced the store would be closing, citing a struggling economy and not enough of a customer base to keep the business afloat.
Burke said the store has floundered and it’s time to close the doors.
“The long and short of it, we’re in a place where we’ve done everything we could to keep the store open,” Burke said. “There are not enough people coming through the doors.”
The 28,000-square-foot property was put on the market with little interest from any prospective buyer or someone to lease the building, Burke said.
Popular items like summer goods, garden supplies, housewares, discounted toys, clothing and holiday items still filled the store shelves last week, but sale signs loomed to announce the store’s closing bargains and liquidation prices.
Burke has had a retail store for about three decades on “the hill” on Rockingham Road in several locations.
The most recent space offered everything under the sun to customers looking for a bargain.
Burke came to Derry in 1981, opening a business and immersing himself in the community.
He became the face behind “Dollar Bill” with a perky auctioneer attitude, a popular “infomercial” style local television program and strong commitment to the town.
He has worked closely with schools and organizations, providing employment opportunities for students, supporting scholarships, and offering his unique auctioneer abilities to help with fundraisers and charity events.
He was named the Greater Derry/Londonderry Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year in 2004.
The economy has hurt — a lot. Customer numbers plummeted from 2,000 in one week down to a trickle of only a few hundred.
“We’re just not really there anymore,” Burke said. “We’ve done what we can. Big-box stores are taking what used to be the backbone of America.”
With the retail store closing, Burke said he would focus more on his wholesale/auction business, using the current store space for an expanded business in that direction.
He will continue to do auctions and offer more of an online presence.
Burke said his store and its employees have been a family. But, in recent years, staff numbers have dropped from about 31 down to seven employees at the moment.
He said he would utilize staffers for any of his auction and wholesale ventures once the store closed.
“I want to try and keep everybody working,” he said.”
Burke said he can only look forward to what lies ahead.
“We’re on a journey, we raised this business like a child and it’s been like a family to us,” Burke said. “We’ve crawled, we’ve walked, but so many things are out of our hands. They just don’t come to the party anymore.”