Ride Across Indiana, Road Trips

Then and now: Veach’s in downtown Richmond, Indiana on the National Road

When my friend Dawn and I made our trip along the National Road in eastern Indiana in 2015, we came upon an audacious toy store in downtown Richmond. Family owned, Veach’s had been selling toys in Richmond for more than seven decades. We were astonished and delighted that the store had survived all of the changes in retail since the 1980s. Unfortunately, when I rode across Indiana this year, Veach’s was gone.

Downtown Richmond
Downtown Richmond, National Road

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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21 thoughts on “Then and now: Veach’s in downtown Richmond, Indiana on the National Road

  1. It is funny how I still feel a momentary thrill at the mention of a toy store. It makes me remember the long-gone Kern’s Toyland in my own hometown, that was once my favorite place in the world.

  2. Greg Clawson says:

    Jim, it’s a shame that big box stores have killed small town America shops. Even the ones that make a profit, results in long hours for small returns. Most family run businesses close when the children/grandchildren don’t want to invest the time necessary.
    Then there is the internet……

    • There’s a natural cycle to things, and all things must pass. However, one hidden thing lost here is that local shop owners were often pillars of their communities. Walmart and the Internet can’t replace that.

  3. What a loss for the community and the kids. There are so many places in my lifetime that hold nostalgia for me – a local five and dime with a tremendous toy selection, a little bakery with the best donut holes, a small downtown department store where we took our film for processing…. The list goes on and on. Some of the connection I have is because of the product they sold but much of it is related to the people who owned and worked in these places.

    Walgreens, Tim Horton’s, Walmart and the internet don’t hold the same appeal or the same community connections as all those small businesses that once were community treasuries.

    Getting a toy from Amazon can’t hold the same appeal as walking in and admiring it week after week until you have enough money saved to buy it.

        • That’s the crux of it right there. Walmart and Amazon don’t care about their communities. They don’t actively hate the communities, they just aren’t involved like local business owners can be.

        • Exactly. Walmart exists on an island and whatever happens around it is fine by them. At least that’s how it works around here. They donate to a few projects a year but it’s a mere pittance compared to what they’re making here. Meanwhile, it’s the small businesses that support every cause and activity in town. And yes, I’m a little bitter in case you can’t tell.

  4. Andy Umbo says:

    Even before the pandemic, when I lived in Indianapolis, I was getting e-mails from pals in other cities about the closing of stores, bars, restaurants, etc, that we had been going to since the 70’s. I was thoroughly surprised to get an e-mail from my brother telling me about a downtown Milwaukee place we all hung around because it was an ad agency hang-out. Gone by 2017. I think a lot of my favorite places from the 70’s were hanging on from the housing melt-down of 07-08-09, and gone before the pandemic. When the smoke clears, there’ll be a lot more to blame Amazon for than Wal-Mart. A lot of people might have loved to shop at Veach’s, but I’d be surprised if a stand alone store could have survived without competitive pricing!

      • Andy Umbo says:

        That is a very interesting point. I was aware that a lot of Milwaukee leading edge baby-boomers refused to take over the family businesses from their parents and grand-parents, causing many to sell out or go public in the 1980’s. When I lived in Washington DC, I was doing the under-writing on a documentary about Pittsburg, and the exact opposite was going on! It was roaring back in the 90’s, with input from the grand-kids developing new markets and taking the businesses in different direction! The moneyed baby-boomers couldn’t get out of Milwaukee fast enough, and in Pittsburg, they were staying put and pitching in! Something in the water?

  5. DougD says:

    That church doesn’t look nearly as fun as the previous tenant. They should have recycled the signage. Since AD33! Where God is the boss!

  6. Toys “R” Us in my neighbourhood no longer operates. Neither does the Walmart. I can’t blame the closing of losing business on the pandemic or on big box stores.

    I was suggest that the people in the comment above waxing nostalgic about these changes are old. The next generation of shopper may not want what you had.

    As an immigrant to the USA I don’t have these nostalgic memories of local stores and brands, etc. The USA does not belong to the past.

  7. Everett says:

    My wife’s aunt and uncle owned Veach’s. It seemed the numbers just weren’t adding up to keep it going. My wife says they had a special birthday room that looked like a castle. Kids would get coupons in the mail for their birthday, and they could go pick out a free toy from the birthday room. She says she has fond memories of that.

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