End of an era: Customers paying final visits to Tower Grove hard - KMOV.com

End of an era: Customers paying final visits to Tower Grove hardware store

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A Tower Grove South staple is closing its doors after 86 years in the neighborhood. The owner of Oak Hill True Value Hardware is retiring after 42 years of working at the store. 

The store is older than most of the people who live in the neighborhood. It sits at the corner of Connecticut & Oak Hill Avenue, a few blocks south of Tower Grove Park. It's tucked back into the quiet, residential streets, which makes it hard for store owner Don Scherer to draw a crowd to come in. But it also makes it easier for him to connect and get to know the ones who do. 

Hardware is in Don's blood.

"The rest of the family has been in hardware all these years, so for me to go into that business was kind of like the family tradition," said Don, which is why he's worked at Oak Hill Hardware for 42 years, and eventually became the owner of the franchise. 

Right now, his store is getting more attention than it's used to, but not for the right reasons. Don is having a liquidation sale to get rid of all the items in the store to close it down for good. It's not how he wanted to things to end. His goal was to find a buyer who wanted to take over ownership and operation so the hardware store could continue to exist for the community.

With hardware superstores, like Home Depot, popping up nearby and all over the city, Don thinks it scared the chances of any possible owner away. Instead, someone bought it to turn the space into residential use. 

6-year employee Todd Halasey lives in the same neighborhood he works in.

"I'm bummed about losing my job, but I'm more bummed about losing my hardware store," said Halasey.

He says the reason local, niche stores like Oak Hill are so important is they cater directly to the neighborhood they are in.

"Sash chain and window sash locks, you know stuff for the older houses that are in these neighborhoods," said Halasey. 

Since announcing the closure, customers have been stopping by as soon as the doors open at 10 a.m. to say their goodbyes to the store and their friend Don. Closing doors have opened Don's eyes to the real impact of his small business on the neighborhood.

"I did not realize what the store meant to some of my customers," said Don. 

"I'm really going to miss this place," said Todd LaClue, "I'm going to miss the employees."

LaClue grew up just down the street on Connecticut. He was raised by his grandpa.

"One of the 'rites of passages' of my youth was one day my grandfather didn't bring me here, but actually said, 'I need a pound of nails, here's money, go up and get me a pound of nails,' I was about 5 or 6 and I was like 'yes I'm going to get nails myself,'" said LaClue. 

In these last couple weeks of the liquidation sale, Don has been taking pictures of all the loyal customers who helped make his store a legacy. 

"They're a lot more like friends than they are customers," said Don.

He doesn't have an exact closing date. It just depend on how fast they sell out of everything. However, Don said he definitely will be closed by Christmas.

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