SIOUX CITY -- What's the natural life expectancy of an escalator?
If you ask HOM Furniture manager Kyle Chance, it would be around 35 years or so.
At least, that is how long the escalator at 415 4th St. has been transporting customers up to the second floor and back down to the first floor.
"The escalator was original when the downtown Younkers came to the Town Square in 1986," Chance said. "When HOM took over the building in 2008, we've continued to utilize the escalator."
That was until late last summer, when it was decided to replace the escalator for a more modern staircase.
Chance said the decision was mainly a financial one.
"It would have cost more than $1 million to have a new escalator installed," he said. "Adding in the cost of electricity and maintenance, it wasn't feasible."
The change may be a sign of the times. HOM Furniture's escalator is thought to be the last one in operation in a retail store in Sioux City.
After Younkers closed its Southern Hills Mall store in August 2018, the department store's former escalator was turned off for good.
HOM's escalator also is the last in downtown Sioux City that was accessible to the general public.
In recent years, two-level escalators at the Ho-Chunk Centre atrium and MercyOne's Central Medical Building were replaced with staircases. Even earlier, the city removed the escalator that was located in the skywalk space next to the Sioux City Hotel & Conference Center.
MidAmerican Energy continues to run the escalator in its multi-story office building at 401 Douglas St. But that escalator is primarily used by the utility company's staff.
Chase said a staircase would give HOM Furniture's showroom an upscale aesthetic.
"I think it will certainly freshen things up," Chance said as workmen continued to construct the staircase with steel and glass railing. "Every space needs a nice update."
He admitted this makeover had been planned for more than a year.
"Things got delayed due to the pandemic," Chance said. "We had to wait until back ordered material became available."
However, he said customers will be pleased by the sleek staircase, which is slated to be completed in the next few months.
He admitted that the days of a motor-driven moving staircase is quietly coming to an end.
"What was once thought to be more modern now looks old fashioned," Chance said. "It may the end of an era for an escalator."