Sunday, March 31, 2013

Requiem for a friend...

Late last week, I saw the following Facebook post from Paddletown Hardware:

Friends and Family,
As of April 1, 2013 and after 76 years in business, Eymer & Duchane Inc.dba” Paddletown Hardware “will be going out of business." As a valued customer, we wanted to inform you that we will be holding a going out of business sale Saturday, March 30-for “FACEBOOK Faithful” favorite customers.
Then on April 3rd we will offer to the general public access to the closing sale. It will be a “Dutch Auction” type of sale with the discount taken off higher each day until merchandise is gone. We will sell fixtures and equipment also, so keep that in mind too. We will accept cash or checks only. Credit decisions will be up to Tom or Karen before the sale with those whose current balances are caught up having preference.
In an effort to clear out our inventory we will be offering unprecedented discounts on all of our popular items for only those who mention seeing this on FACEBOOK. It is an event not to be missed!

I was stunned.  This is a corner hardware store in Oscoda, Michigan.  

As readers of the blog know, we own a cottage on Lake Huron just south of Oscoda.  We purchased the cottage in January, 2010.  When you buy a new place, what do you likely need?  A new shovel, a new rake, stain, paint, sandpaper... you know, hardware.  We started going to what was Ace Hardware, which morphed into Paddletown Hardware a few years later.  The staff at Paddletown was always helpful, very knowledgeable and always able to find that one thing you needed.  If they did not have it, they would order it for you or refer you to a competitor's store to get what you needed.

Look closely at text at the bottom of the top sign:

Est. 1937 Downtown Oscoda.  When this store opened, FDR was President.  

We went to our cottage this weekend to open it up for the season, and I had to stop by Paddletown Hardware for what might be my last time.  I walked into the store and I was immediately greeted by one of the staff and the conversation went like this:

Paddletown Staff:  Hello.  How are you?  What do you need?
Me:  I am extremely sad to hear that you are going out of business.  
Paddletown Staff:  Yeah, it is a bummer.  Can I help you find something?
Me:  Yes, I need...

This Paddletown staff member did not miss a beat.  He focused on me, the customer, not himself, the soon to be unemployed person.

From there the staff member helped me locate a few things, and I got a 30% discount on my purchases because I told them that I heard about the store closing on Facebook.

While I was checking out and paying for my things, I overheard a conversation between a customer who was likely in his eighties (and wearing a hat that said "USAF Retired) and one of the managers:

Elderly gentleman:  So you are going out of business?  That's too bad.  You must have had a rough winter.
Paddletown Manager:  Yes, we had a bad winter and a bad summer last year.  We just could not make it.

In 2012, US-23, which is the main road through Oscoda, was resurfaced.  It caused all kinds of traffic back ups and delays.  It really disrupted the flow of goods and services into and out of Oscoda.  It has been a rough couple years in Michigan with the Great Recession, and it has hit Oscoda hard.  A couple of other businesses went under the past two years in Oscoda.  The economy was likely to blame, but resurfacing the only real business street in Oscoda did not help.  Now, a store with the best staff that has been in business since the FDR's second term will be no more as of 20 April, 2013.

I won't be up there for much, if any, of the so called "Dutch Sale."  We might make it up there once in the next few weekends.  If I do, I will definitely stop by and once again pay my respects.  This store will be missed by everyone who ever shopped or worked there.

I hope that Oscoda can recover as much of the state of Michigan has.  Losing the Paddletown Hardware Store is not a step in the right direction.


Gary(canoeist) said...

I agree. Losing Paddle Town hardware will be a huge loss for sure. I have known the family for a long time. Tom's dad used to dress up as Santa for Christmas and listen to the Christmas wishes. They will be missed.

Cal said...

I've known the owners and their family for many many years, and I am very, very sad... not just for them, but for another little piece of my hometown slipping away.

Ur-spo said...

yes, these stories make me sad as well