Since 1945 Oaks Hardware has supplied local customers with an assortment of repair, gardening and BBQ supplies, and on Wednesday, Dec. 5, it will do so for the final time.
Oaks Hardware is closing. John Armstrong, the shop's current owner cites a lack of sales and a downtrodden economy as the reason.
"It's the economy. Sales aren't there," Armstrong said. "People aren't spending any money there."
Armstrong took over one year and eight months ago, he said, when former Oaks Hardware owner and current landlord David Hill went on to start his new business, BBQ Pros. For Hill, whose family purchased the hardware store in 1983, the news was sad.
"Bottom line is (Armstrong) feels like he is not making a go of it there," Hill said.
Hill said he hasn't had much contact with Armstrong in a long time, despite the fact their respective businesses share a wall.
"It's a sad thing, but it is what it is. It'd be nice if he could pick it up, but he has chosen this path," Hill said.
Fair Oaks Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jan Bass-Otto had just heard the news Tuesday.
"It's tragic. They've been around forever; they're a landmark," Bass-Otto said.
Bass-Otto said she'd be making calls to some of her more entrepreneurial contacts that have showed interest in the hardware store in the past.
Armstrong, who also works as a sales associate with Thrifty Supply Co., explained the store has faced increasing competition from other hardware supply chains like Home Depot, he said.
"People can go to Home Depot and spend eight bucks on a box of screws and come into oaks and buy one screw for 18 cents," Armstrong said.
Armstrong also noted he will not try to sell the business. Instead, he will liquidate all of the store's merchandise beginning Friday, Dec. 7, once the store has been closed. The merchandise will be auctioned off through the third-part auctioning service, Huisman Auctions, Incorporated. According to the auction, which can be found here, bids will begin at 9 a.m. on Friday and last till Monday, Dec. 17 at 9 a.m.
"It'd be a shame if all the mom and pop hardware stores went away and all that was left were Home Depots," Hill said.
The news of the store's closure came quick. The hardware store's current manager, Gary Jinkerson, said he hadn't even had time to consider what he'd do once he was out of a job.
"I just want to apologize to my customers who have been coming in the last two years," Jinkerson said.
Asked if he would consider returning to the business his family helped define for so many years, Hill said he is happy with his new business, BBQ Pro.
"I'm happy doing what I’m doing; I made that decision," he said. I was happy doing that; I enjoyed serving the people. I have no idea what will be left when he leaves."
Asked if he had anything he'd like to tell the community of customers who frequented his shop through the many years, Armstrong had only a simple apology to offer.
"I'm sorry I had to close it."
For more stories about Oaks Hardware, be sure to check out:
Local Hardware Store Supplies Sense of Community
New Store Offers Barbecue Supplies and Home Decor
Holiday Sales Slowly Improving for Local Businesses