GRANITE CITY — For almost 40 years, Champion’s Wedding and Party Room at 2445 Pontoon Road was a popular stop for people in Granite City and the Metro East.
But on June 30, the store will be closing.
“People ask me what I’m going to do,” owner Marilyn Champion said. “I want to get more active in my church. I do quite a bit. I just didn’t have the time. This (running a store) is really time-consuming.”
The 80-year-old Champion runs her business in a house where she grew up until 1970.
“I lived here until I got married,” she said. “They do it different nowadays. Kids get 18 and they’re out the door. Not me. I stayed home.”
The store sells items such as pennants, banners, glasses, candle holders, balloons, mugs, mailboxes and birdcages and material for weddings, birthday parties, baby showers and proms.
“We’ve been pretty busy,” said Laura Boyles, one of the store’s helpers. “Basically we’re trying to sell stuff she would normally sell. We do have a lot of stock that we’re trying to get rid of, but a lot of stuff that she rented that nobody really wants. But it’s still nice stuff.”
Terry Gonterman is the store’s other helper.
Champion’s task for the final month of business is to sell all of her items. She has plenty of items in every room in the house, including the living room, the dining room and the garage.
“People think that when I get rid of all of this, I’ll be able to concentrate on those other things in my church and in my life because you don’t have one when you’re here,” she said.
Champion, who graduated from Granite City High School in 1953, opened Marilyn’s School of Baton the next year. She taught baton at the school, which closed in 1970.
She married Paul Lunsford in the 1970s and they opened Marilyn’s House of Fashion. In June 1977, Champion, her husband and mother opened Champion’s Wedding and Party Room. Champion became sole proprietor in 2001.
The store has been getting customers not only from Granite City, but from cities such as Highland, Vandalia and St. Louis. Champion said the store’s goal is to give good customer service.
“My husband said even if you’re in an alley and you open a place, if you give the service, they’ll come to you,” she said. “They’ll find you.”
But several months ago, she decided the store will close for good in June.
“I got tired,” she said. “It didn’t hit me until I said I was going to close. I can’t work as long and I can’t run like I used to.”
Champion said she has been getting a lot of appreciation from the customers.
“They’re glad for me,” she said. “They feel like I’ve worked and I’ve worked pretty good.”
For information, contact Champion’s Wedding and Party Room at (618) 931-0868.