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Alva Duckwall Sr.

Variety store chain founder. Born: August 30, 1877, Batavia, Ohio. Died: 1937.

Alva Duckwall went into business in Greenleaf where he sold and repaired bicycles and sewing machines. In 1901 he sold that store and bought another one in Abilene. His brother Wilbur joined him. They named their new firm "Duckwall Brothers Racket Store – A Little Bit of Everything."  They specialized in small household items.

The business grew and they started a second store in Salina. Alva would travel around the countryside on Sunday afternoons and with the permission of the farmers would paint, "There are others, but none like Duckwall Brothers," on barns and gates. The man had a way with words.

In 1915 they had nine stores and kept expanding. They formed the A. L. Duckwall Five and Dime Store Company. Alva remained with the company until his death. Duckwall-ALCO still operate many stores in Kansas and other states. Alva was inducted into the Kansas Business Hall of Fame in 2000.

Entry: Duckwall Sr., Alva

Author: G. Joseph Pierron

Author information: Judge Pierron serves on the Kansas Court of Appeals and has an interest in Kansas history.

Date Created: November 2012

Date Modified: January 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.