OREGON – Business was brisk Tuesday morning at Basler’s Ace Hardware as a steady stream of customers took advantage of the store’s going-out-of-business sale.
Owner Jeff Basler waited on customers and chatted with well-wishers who congratulated him on his retirement – while they cashed in on the 40-percent-off-everything discounts.
“Best thing I ever did,” an elderly man said as he added an item to his cart. “You won’t be sorry.”
Basler, 63, will retire when he closes the store on Oct.1.
“It’s been in the works for a while,” he said. “After 40 years in the business and working 60 hours a week, my wife told me it’s time to retire.”
Attempts failed to sell the hardware business over the past several months. “I talked to six different prospective buyers – one just 2 weeks ago – but couldn’t get it worked out,” Basler said.
His two daughters and son-in-law, who have worked at the business for several years, are not interested in taking it over, he said.
“Then the Farmer’s Almanac came out and said what next winter will be like [cold and snowy], and I told my wife, ‘I’m coming along to Florida,’” Basler said with a grin. They plan to retire in Fort Myers, where they have owned a house for several years.
He and his wife, Cindy, bought the store from Ed and Thelma Zumdahl in 1974. At that time it was in downtown Oregon, on the northeast corner of Washington and Third streets.
Basler moved to 807 W. Pines Road in 1998. The store employs 15 people, he said, but business hasn’t been as good as it once was.
“Since 2008-09, the brakes got thrown in it,” he said. “The less retail in a community, the harder it is to hold retail. The market can only support so much.”