Friday, April 20, 2012

Thirty-six years owned, ending on clearance

Rob Chapman, owner of Chapman's Ace Hardware and Paint, 335 River St., flips through a guide for mixing paint colors in the back of his store. The store is closing within the next month after Chapman has worked there for 44 years, including 36 years owned. "For the last five, six years, I've been depressed, unhappy and stressed to the max," Chapman said. "Now, I feel relieved."
   Shelves of paint are being sold at half-off at Chapman's Ace Hardware and Paint, weeks ahead
   of its closing.
ONTONAGON, Mich. -- When asked about when his store is closing for good, Rob Chapman smiles.

   He smiles because the worst six years of his life are closing.    

   That's saying something, because Rob Chapman has owned Chapman's Ace Hardware and Paint store since 1976.

   The store closing comes years after his business was impacted detrimentally by the 2009 permanent closing of the Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation paper mill.

   Mr. Chapman said the mill did a lot of business with him.

   "It was a triple-whammy when (Smurfit-Stone) closed," Mr. Chapman said. "They owed me money when they closed, then I lost all the business that was generated with them. Then all the guys who were laid-off after it closed didnt' want to spend that money, not knowing what tomorrow's bringing."

   Mr. Chapman said he is glad to be ending the business after a very stressful half-decade.

   "For the last five, six years, I've been depressed, unhappy and stressed to the max," he said. "Now, I feel relieved. It's a good feeling to have all this weight off my shoulders."

   Mr. Chapman said he anticipates the store to close approximately the second week of May, but won't know for sure until the day before he thinks it will be ready to close permanently.

   Before mixing paint colors for a customer, Mr. Chapman stood and looked around his store. He wiped his brow.

   "I have no idea what my plans are (after the store closes)," Mr. Chapman said. "Obviously I'm gonna have to find work."

   Mr. Chapman started working part-time at this hardware store the summer before he began seventh grade. That was 1968.He bought it with his family in 1976 and has owned and operated the store since.

   After mixing paint colors for a customer, Mr. Chapman took out historic photos of the building. In 1909, the building was outfitted into a movie theater, called Pastime Theater. It closed in 1917 and was then turned into a hardware store, Hecox-Scott Hardware, complete with a gas pump on the sidewalk.

Rob Chapman holds a photo taken of Pastime Theater between1909 and 1917 of the very
building of his store.
   His wife, Kathy, works in the loft above the front of the store, where the film projector was rigged in the old theater. She's worked there for the last 28 years.

   The store has held clearance sales for the last five or six weeks, Mr. Chapman said. On April 21, he said the store will begin a 60-percent-off sale on all items. Clearance sales lately have been half-off.

   "After that, since I've never closed a store before, I'm going to evaluate the store and see where it's at," Mr. Chapman said. "I might just start selling the departments and lots."

   He will have to get rid of fittings and furniture after the product's gone, he said.

   Steve Sundberg, a seven-year cashier at Chapman's Ace Hardware and Paint, said the product has been sold-off quickly so far.

     "We're pretty much out of sporting goods. You could see it comin'," Mr. Sundberg said. "There's fewer people in town than there used to be."

   Mr. Sundberg said he has no specific plans after the store closes.

   "Nothing in particular," he said and laughed. "Or nothing I wanna talk about."
Steve Sundberg stands at the front counter in Chapman's Ace Hardware and Paint, where he has worked for the past seven years.
Shelves sit empty during a half-off clearance at Chapman's Ace Hardware and Paint, 335 River St.

1 comment:

  1. So sad to see a fixture of the community close.