Link's clothing store in Visalia is closing after 72 years

VISALIA, California

Link's clothing store first opened in 1941 just a few days before the Pearl Harbor bombing. Now the owners are retiring and making way for the first-of-its-kind development in Downtown Visalia.

Employees at Link's men's and women's wear in Downtown Visalia are gearing up for the biggest sale the store has ever had. After 40 years brothers Bob and Tom Link are retiring. The store has been open 72-years, first run by their father and has been a staple in Downtown Visalia.

Tom said, "It was very tough back in those days and my mother worked at the store as well as us, and my brother and I after school would go to the store and sweep floors and fold boxes that type of thing."

Now the brothers are looking towards retirement with mixed emotions -- sad to leave the downtown but excited for the next chapter ahead. Both plan on staying in the area.

Bob added, "Visalia community has been very good to us they've supported us extremely well."

While the Links prepare to close up their shop -- downtown developer and realtor Sam Sciacca is revealing his plans for the building. Unless someone wants to buy the Link's business, new retailers will move in downstairs. But the biggest change to the building will be the six apartments that will go in the building four of which will go in the vacant 3,000 square foot second story.

Sciacca said, "I think it's a lot of square footage that's not being utilized."

Sciacca says nearly 90% of Visalia's downtown buildings have vacant second stories and there's a need by people to create housing downtown.

"I already have 4 of these units on reservation and we haven't even started construction yet so that tells me there's a need and a supply we don't have to fulfill the need," explained Sciacca.

Link's will close by the end of January. Then the new apartments will be under construction. They expect to be ready to rent by mid-2014.

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