When a business closes its doors for good, there’s a sense of loss in a community. Local residents feel for the employees and mourn the passing of the business’ offering. And while we sometimes dwell on closing doors, often the change marks the start of a transition and new beginnings.

Nowhere in Dubuque is that evolution as apparent as it is in Plaza 20 Shopping Center and the surrounding area.

It was in March of 2017, just over three years ago that Kmart in Dubuque turned off its blue light marking specials and closed its doors for good. As a long-time shopping staple in Dubuque, Kmart’s departure was the end of an era.


While some local shoppers were sad to see it go, Plaza 20 is more vibrant today than it has been in decades.

About the time Kmart was going out, Harbor Freight was coming, offering a tool wonderland for professional builders and DIY shoppers.

Kmart’s exit made room for an expanded Dubuque Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic, which now has about four times more space in Plaza 20 than its previous location.

Last fall, crafters got their own wonderland with a brand new Joann, 30% larger than its former location, which added jobs as well.

In recent weeks we’ve learned that Slumberland Furniture will relocate from its current location to a larger space within Plaza 20 in the first quarter of 2021.

Then last week, crews broke ground on the construction of the future Sonic Drive-In within Plaza 20, something Dubuque area residents have been eagerly anticipating.

Additionally, Plaza 20 boasts more than a dozen more shops, each attracting its own following, such as Dunkin’, Dirt Road Darlings and Affordable Furniture.

Plaza 20 President Michael Kahle and his staff deserve credit for working to keep development thriving in this area.

A then-and-now snapshot of Plaza 20 five years ago and today provides a reminder that although businesses come and go, local development is an evolution and the Dubuque area is lucky to have many areas continuing to grow and thrive.

Editorials reflect the consensus of the Telegraph Herald Editorial Board.