(La Porte, IN) - The partial collapse of a building once home to a popular store in downtown LaPorte was emotional for family members connected to the former retailer.
The three-story structure in the 700 block of Lincolnway, a block east of the courthouse, was once Low's, a clothing store for men and women.
Marty Ringla of LaPorte and his niece, Teresa Mijares of Valparaiso, cried, laughed, and hugged each other while sharing their fond memories of the former store looking more like a demolition site.
His father and her grandfather, Sam Ringla, worked at the store for about 20 years before purchasing it in the 1960s.
"My whole life was spent in that building pretty much with my dad," Ringla said.
The once bustling department store used to have a tailor working on beautiful tables to make clothing better fit their customers.
Mijares recalled how she and her brothers, growing up in LaPorte, were afraid of the mannequins during their early childhood visits to the store. However, Mijares loved looking at the glass display cases containing new merchandise and Christmas shopping at the store.
"It's sad. It was a really neat place to be in," Mijares said.
Ringla's now late father ran the business until selling it to a buyer who turned it into an antique store roughly 30 years ago.
"It was his whole life right there. It's just the finish to it," Ringla said.
Ringla remembers downtown being crowded with shoppers during those years, even at night, because of all the retailers.
"It was a happening spot back in the day," Ringla remembered.
Mijares especially enjoyed when stores offered sales and patronizing the restaurants. Going out for an ice cream downtown was particularly fun for the former resident.
"We all shopped down here. All of the time," Mijares said.
Ringla had good things to say about the positive gains in recent years to bring more life back to downtown.
"It's been real encouraging," Ringla said.