One by one, they've all left. All the merchants who operated retail stores in the Village of East Davenport when Connie Scott moved her business there in 1981 have left.

New businesses have opened in their places, and now it's Scott's turn.

By the end of December, she will close The Soap Box, a small store just west of the corner of Mound and 11th streets. The closing is bittersweet, but at 68, Scott said she wants to retire and "go into the next chapter of my life."

That will include spending more time with her husband, Tim, who is retired from the Arsenal, and her two children and five grandchildren.

Scott grew up in the Quad-Cities, but got the idea for a soap shop when she saw similar businesses during stints in San Francisco and Boulder, Colorado, in the 1970s.

The Quad-Cities didn't have anything like that, and she thought the area could support one. She opened The Soap Box next to Trash Can Annie's when it was on Davenport's Brady Street, but when the Village space became available a year later, she moved. She has remained for 36 years.

"Until Isabel Bloom left a year ago, we were the longest," she said of retail businesses in the Village with the original owners.

Walking into her shop was an experience. Customers were greeted by the jingle of bells hanging on the door and the sweet, mingled scents of dozens of different soaps, candles and lotions, displayed in old-time oak display cases that Scott purchased specifically for the store. One bears a brass tag stating that it came from the jewelry department of the Marshall Field & Co., Chicago.

The Crabtree & Evelyn brand was the first line Scott signed, and at one time she had 15 others. She also was among the first stores in the Quad-Cities to sell locally homemade soaps and candles.

Now, they are available in many venues, but in the early '80s, The Soap Box was the place to get them. In that sense, she was a pioneer in "buying local and small," she said.

She also stocked shaving, nail and back brushes and fragrance diffusers and house misters when they became popular.

Among her favorite memories are of "living windows" she created during the annual Christmas Walk in the Village. Last year, her five grandchildren ranging in age from 14 to 1 and all wearing plaid pajamas, were positioned in the window making gingerbread houses.

At one time, Scott thought her daughter might take over the business, but her daughter became a teacher and has three young children, so that is not going to happen.

"And it's OK," Scott said. "It's worked out the way it's supposed to be. I started it, and I'm going to end it."

After this week, the store will be open Thursdays through Saturdays in December until Christmas "or until the inventory is gone," Scott said. "And from how things are going, it might not last," she said, looking around at several bare shelves.

Since she announced her plans to close, "customers have said the most wonderful things to me," she said. "That really has meant a lot.

"I will miss this spot," she said. "I will miss the relationships with customers. But it is time to retire."

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