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The Merchant General Store adds one more piece of history and ice cream
by Michelle Weyenberg of the Jackson County Chronicle

For a good 30 years, it sat in a storage room in Eau Claire.

Four weeks ago it was returned home and is now displayed for everyone to see at the Merchant General Store in downtown Black River Falls.

registerThe antique cash register is considered one of a kind and original to the building. In 1912, Edward Locken built the original building for his shoe store, which was named the Locken Shoe Store.

The Locken Store was in business in Black River Falls for 78 years before it was sold to Gene Dana, who changed the name to Gene's Bootery.

Current owner, Darren Durman, said the register was traded in for a new one in 1966.

"They normally scrap it out," he said.

But this register was put in a store room and forgotten about.

Five years ago the back room of the Eau Claire office was cleaned out and a guy who collected antique cash registers kept it.

"In 1912, the register cost around $175. Today that would be around $3 to $4,000," Durman said.

Durman said he was contacted about the register after the collector decided to do some downsizing. Owner Darren Durman said he hopes the cash register will stay with the store through its lifetime.

"After all these years it finally made its way back to the original store," he said. "Dorothy Hanson, who used to work here, remembered using it."

Hanson, in her '80s, worked at Locken Shoe Store from 1950 to 1978 when she left for health reasons.

Hanson's name is still listed on the register, in which she would have to push the button by her name before conducting a transaction.

The slogan of The Merchant General Store is "celebrating simpler days gone by."

Darren and Trish Durman chose the store name in dedication to Ed and Enoch Locken.

The original cash register fits in well with the stores merchandise, which includes antiques and collectibles.

"I hope that it would stay with the store through its lifetime," Durman said.

The Merchant General Store is adding another feature - hand dipped ice cream.

The store already serves old-time glass-bottled soda, coca-cola, old-time cream soda and other flavored cream sodas, Rood Beer and a variety of other drinks and sodas all in glass bottles.

Add ice cream for customers and it might just be the best after school or summer treat.

"We had the idea when we opened," Durman said. The store opened almost four years ago.

Durman said they plan to do up to eight flavors during the spring and summer and maybe four or five flavors during the winter.

"It will all depend on how many customers we get and what they're asking for," he said.

"We plan on putting up small table and chairs outside by the windows."

The Chocolate Shop Ice Cream is set to be served by the end of next week.

For more information on the history of The Merchant General Store visit their Web site at

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