The Soap Opera is closing shop

BY DI STAFF | NOVEMBER 06, 2014 5:00 AM

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One downtown Iowa City business is going to close in January after 34 years in business.

The Soap Opera has been selling various soaps, lotions, and other bath products since 1981 when Matthew Theobald’s parents opened the store, with just a small line of products and an ambition to bring a unique business to downtown.

“The people who gave my parents the loan thought they were insane,” Theobold said.

He said they heard from the bank that they probably wouldn’t last more than a year, and now more than three decades later, the shop will close after the first month of 2015.

Theobold said he is currently planning to move to Boston with his fiancé, and other owners have other jobs or are retired. They were in talks with some people on selling the business, but the final conclusion was to shut down after January.

Emily Schulz has been working for The Soap Opera for ten years now, and said the customers will be one thing she’ll miss.

“The customers are disappointed, but a lot will share stories about how long they’ve shopped,” she said.

Repeat customers were a big reason for the success of the retailer, Theobold said.

“You don’t last 34 years if you don’t get those repeat, loyal customers,” he said.

News of the business plan to close has brought in e-mails, phone calls, and visits from loyal customers everywhere sharing their stories of how long they have shopped there and memories of The Soap Opera Theobold said.

“Most of our business now comes online from people that have moved away from Iowa City,” he said.

— by Nick Moffitt

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