Hoquiam Ace Hardware, a cornerstone business in the downtown core, abruptly announced this week that the store would close at the end business today.
The store has operated in the same location since it opened in 1958 as Ace Electric, according to 30-year store manager Kellie Nordberg.
Owner Steve Buck, who is retiring, tried to sell the store, but a potential sale fell through, Nordberg said. He told Nordberg and the store’s other three employees on Wednesday that he intended to close up shop today.
“It’s very emotional,” she said, “but I definitely would like to thank all of our loyal customers over the years.”
Buck, who is part of the Buck Electric family business in Ocean Shores, was unavailable for comment. He purchased the Hoquiam store in 2012, according to Nordberg.
The store will shut down permanently at 4:30 p.m. today.
Friday morning, the store was bustling. Some people had heard about the closure and wanted to visit one last time. Others became quite upset upon hearing the news while they were there. “That sucks!” was a commonly heard sentiment.
Electrician Arnie Ekman of Grays Harbor City worked at the Hoquiam store for 25 years and served his apprenticeship there when it was still Ace Electric.
“I worked for Eddie Walden here until he sold the place,” he said Friday after chatting with Nordberg over his final purchases. “I feel awful for Kellie — we worked together for a while. This is just heart-wrenching.”
Longtime customer Greg Walczyk of Hoquiam called it a great loss to the community.
“It’s old-school,” he said. “The people here are knowledgeable and friendly. I just can’t believe it’s closing.”
There’s no going-out-of- business sale; nothing is marked down, said Nordberg. The inventory will all be packed up and sent to the Ocean Shores Ace store.
She said she and her crew have been informed there are no job openings at the Ocean Shores location, so they’re being forced to look elsewhere. Having received only three days’ notice of termination, they’re weighing their options.
Nordberg is applying to other stores on the Harbor and in East County. She said she might even pick up and move out that direction and commute to Olympia.
In the meantime, “stuff has been piling up in my craft room,” she said. “I might just finish a few projects while I’m collecting unemployment.”