Trimmer hardware to close its doors after 30 years

The sounds of the raucous atmosphere surrounding the opening of big-box stores in the area signify that a new way of shopping is upon us, but they also drown out the farewells and closures of small businesses that were once the backbone of the community.

Trimmer Hardware serves as a case in point. The venerable mom-and-pop shop will close its doors in November after 30 years of operation.

For the past 30 years, Doug Trimmer and his wife Sharon have got up in the morning, shipped kids and eventually helped ship grand-kids to school. They have also gone to work at the same location in the plaza at 1224 Main St.

Standing in the middle of their hardware store, that hasn’t changed its floor plan since the doors first opened in 1985, Doug explained why the is shutting the doors for good on Nov. 30.

“It’s a combination of declining sales over of the last 10 years, coupled with rising costs,” he said, holding his emotions intact, but adding enough emotion to drive his point across. “I would also say competition from the big-box stores and people’s buying habits are changing – shopping on the Internet. There are so many of them (big-box stores) that it leaves little room for the mom-and-pop stores.”

Sharon, who was busy trying to get things done before she had to race out to pick up the grand-kids from school, said she has loved working with her husband of nearly 40 years (they hit that mark in June) everyday.

“It is a double-edged sword,”Sharon said about closing the store. “I hate to leave, but we have no choice. You know our kids grew up and worked here, and our grand-kids have worked here. The place has been like family to us.”

Sharon, 58, grew up in Hamilton and Doug moved here his junior year in high school. Taking a break from mixing paint for a customer, Doug explained why working with his wife has been a hardware match made in heaven.

“There was a lot of anguish over the decision to close the store,” he said. “Business was twice what it is now 20 years ago. My wife and I have worked together side by side for the last 30 years, and we’d just get up and go to work everyday and enjoyed it. We are going to miss that. It will be a lifestyle change for us.”

Weaving around the store that is still chock full of nuts, bolts, vacuum belts and replacement parts for oil lamps, customer Harry Gordin lamented the fact that Trimmer Hardware is closing.

“I’ve been coming here for the past eight years,” he said. “I’ve always appreciated the friendliness and customer service you get here. They are pleasant people and you can’t get the kind of service from the bigger stores that you get here.”

Robin Valentine is among the satisfied customers that have shopped at the store over the years.

“It is sad to see them go,” she said. “You can find things here that you can’t find at the other stores. I have a 100-year-old house that I live in, and when I need parts to fix something, it is easy to find those here, and they may not have what I’m looking for at the bigger stores.”

Doug got into the business by gaining experience in the hardware industry and hoping to be that go-to-supplier for people who needed hard to find items.

“I always liked fixing things, and I had a maintenance background and I had worked at a couple of different hardware stores in Fairfield for about nine years combined,” he said. “So, early in 1985 I wanted to try it on my own. So we opened up and stayed in this location and this will be where we end up when we close on Nov. 30.”

He does have a particular fond memory of what business was like in the heyday. Standing under the Gray Seal display, which features the old Gray Seal paint mascot (imagine Frisch’s Big Boy with a painter’s cap on), Doug recalled the gravy days of small business success.

“We have had their paint all 30 years we’ve been open, and we’ve developed good relationship with the company,” he said. “They are a family-owned company in Louisville, Kentucky, and they were recently bought out by a bigger company after being family-owned for 100 years. I have fond memories of sitting at a card table with one of their sales reps figuring out what products to sell.”

The plaza on Main Street used to house a Woolworth, dress shop, grocery store and UDF. The landscape has changed to a fitness center, fast food, cell phone stores, payday loan operation and nail salon. Part-time employee Bob Hoelle, a retired GE worker, said he is sad to see the sign of the times close the hardware store.

“Doug and Sharon are good people,” he said, while advising a customer that the part he couldn’t find “anywhere,” was found. “I came in here to buy something a while ago and ended up working here part-time.”

Doug understands why his shop must close, but that doesn’t mean he has to like it. He does see what the next move for him and Sharon is going to involve.

“I understand that there has to be the big businesses, but small businesses have always served the community well by keeping the dollars in the community and the customer service, and that is being forgotten over the years,” he explained. “We are going to find employment somewhere else and get out of this retail business. I wish I could have kept this going, but it just isn’t going to happen.”

The Gray Seal signs and other hardware memorabilia, along with Doug’s grandfather’s antique tools will make the trek to the Trimmer’s home after the store closes. He will adorn the basement with all of them as a shrine to nearly 40 years of hard work in the business.

His parting shot: “I appreciate the loyal support all of the customers gave us,” he said. “And that old Bob Hope songs comes to mind, ‘Thanks for the Memories.’”

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