Kalamazoo hardware business closing after nearly 150 years

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Tom Izenbaard spent part of the afternoon Thursday manning the cash register and helping customers who walked through the back door at L. Hoesktra True Value Hardware. One person after another placed their items on the table, paid for them and then stuck out their hand for a shake, saying “thank you."

The local hardware store was closing its doors after 149 years. Now, the owners are having a blowout sale to clean out the inventory. Izenbaard said it’s the people they’ll miss the most.

“I enjoy people,” said Izenbaard with a smile. “I like talking to them and, you know, people on a whole are just friendly you know. So we just like to help them.”

Izenbaard and co-owner Phil Ippel have been running the store for 10 years. Izenbaard said he started working there when he was just 15 years old and his dad had been there for 75 years. He’s seen a lot of faces walk through the doors and he knows most of their names.

“I grew up coming here with my dad,” said customer Thomas Terburg who’s dad bought his carpentry supplies there. “Anything, anything you needed around the house, they always had here.”

Terburg said that he came in to buy parts for his HVAC system. They have everything there, he said, from kitchenware to gardening tools to light bulbs. Dozens of people filled up the store by midday, with checkout lines stretching into the aisles.

“Anything I want they’ve got it,” said David Blair. “I go elsewhere, I’ve got to come right back to Hoesktra’s. They have it.”

Blair said he’d been shopping at Hoekstra’s for 30 years. He worked in a nearby printing shop and bought all his supplies there. He’s one of the many people who said they're going to miss this place, especially the staff.

“Just about anything I need to do around the house, I can come here and talk to someone that has the knowledge to get me what I need,” said Terburg. “It’s too bad but I’m happy for them as well.”

Izenbaard said they’re closing shop because it’s time to retire. The store opened in 1867 and it's been in his and Ippel's families for generations. They looked for buyers to take the building off their hands. But they say it's time to let it all go. The sale ends when the last item is sold.

“We appreciate everyone coming [and] supporting us over the years,” said Izenbaard who’s thinking about becoming a volunteer mechanic afterwards. “We’re really going to miss them as much as they miss us.”

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