The owners of a Pahrump business, specializing in everything military are retiring.
George and Cindi Vroenen founded G.I. USA, located in the Albertsons Plaza more than five years ago, but it appears health concerns, along with other issues, forced them into retirement, according to Cindi Vroenen, who regularly displays a keen sense of humor.
“George will be 64 next month and I’ll be 60, even though I know I look like I’m 29,” she said with a chuckle. “We have both been working for over 46 years and we are worn out.”
Dollars and cents
Health issues aside, Vroenen also spoke of economic concerns in relation to the business.
“Our lease comes up in May, and the landlord is not willing to keep us at the same rent we’ve had for the last five years,” she said. “We are not the only business in this complex who is experiencing the same thing with the landlords, like us. It makes me sad to think about the owners of this property, because it seems like they just don’t care if the units are empty.
“Right now we are up to five empty units and when we leave that will be six. I won’t speak for the other businesses, but it’s a struggle here to cover your overhead. It’s not just the high rent, it’s insurance, air conditioning and all of that.”
It’s all relative
Additionally, Vroenen said she and her husband are looking forward to spending more time with their family.
At present, one of the Vroenens’ sons is a soldier stationed in the Middle East.
“Once we recover from our medical issues, we will be visiting our grandkids that we don’t get to see very often,” Vroenen said. “My son is in Kabul, Afghanistan. He’s been there for almost a year and he comes home in May. I really want to see him because he’ll be home for only two months and then he goes back to Kabul for another year.
“It’s a tough situation for me. I lost my mother this year, my father is dying, and my son is serving. We have four who have, or are still serving, and our health is probably of the utmost importance right now.”
Everything must go
A visit to G.I. USA this past week revealed the store still has much by way of merchandise in stock.
Vroenen said she has a plan to clear out those items.
“We’ve been selling our inventory quite rapidly,” she noted. “I have a couple of business owners in town that have asked to buy our merchandise in bulk. We have markdowns and sales, and just about every item in the store is a minimum of 30 percent off, but we are going as high as 80 percent off, even though the banner outside only says 70 percent off. We have all kinds of beautiful jewelry items that were regularly up to $40, but we’ve marked them down to $6. Our inventory goes beyond just military-related items.”
Though the Vroenens will no longer have a typical storefront business, they will continue to perform their custom engraving work, and the like.
“We do so much custom work for the town’s public works department, Emergency Medical Services and the high school,” she said. “We do the school’s softball shirts and the Kiwanis Club’s polo shirts. We just did a couple of hundred shirts for the public works department and we got a call from them to tell us that they were the nicest shirts that they ever had made. That feels really good. We just did a bunch of hats for the upcoming chili cook-off. This business is very labor-intensive.”
Disheartened by the news
Regarding the business’ loyal customers, Vroenen said all were a bit upset to hear that the store is closing.
“When our customers learned that we are retiring and closing the store, they were very sad. We’ve hosted many veteran and military-related events at our store over the years. We always observed Veterans Day, Memorial Day as well as September 11th.
“Just thinking about this makes me very sad. We love what we do, we love our customers and we love the whole town of Pahrump, even if they are not our customers. I am emotional right now because we have been doing this for a long time,” Vroenen said as a tear ran down her face.”
Eleven-year Pahrump residents Nick and Annette Salvato are loyal customers of G.I. USA as well as close friends of the Vroenens.
Both lamented the closing of the business.
“I am a regular customer here,” Nick Salvato said. “I think it’s a shame that the store is closing because not only are they wonderful people, they are fair, honest and they treat people with a lot of respect. A lady came in one day and told Cindi the knife she bought here was either broke or malfunctioning. Cindi did not hesitate to give her a new one. That’s the way Cindi and George are. They are dependable and reliable.”
The Vroenens’ final day in business is May 31, 2019.
The business is at 150 S. Highway 160, unit 4-A. Hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
They can be reached at 775 513-7777.
Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @pvtimes