NILES – It's been in business for 130 years, but now competition and the economy are forcing it to close.
Williams Lumber and Hardware in Niles is a family business, now in its 6th generation. The owner has been trying to keep the place afloat for years. but now can't compete with those big box hardware stores anymore.
This hometown hardware store became the "go to" spot for many craftsmen... So there are many people sad to see it go.
"I don't think anyone in any generation before me would have expected it to last this long," said owner Bruce Williams.
They've been sawing wood and selling tools since 1878, and for the past 6 generations Williams Lumber and Hardware prided themselves on quality and service.
"I've been a customer for many, many years," said customer Ken Grubbs.
"If I needed anything, I'd come in here and pick it up," said customer Roger Barr.
But Bruce Williams has to close his family store next month. He blames the economy and big chain stores for his continuing loss.
"I'm not mad about it at all," he said. "I think it’s time to move on."
Williams inherited the store. He pushed the "shop local" trend for years, but still couldn't make it work.
Williams says consumers don't understand how important shopping local is. He says when you shop at the chain stores, most of the time the money goes to their corporate headquarters. But when you shop local, the money stays in the community.
"There are not only a lot of people lamenting the loss of Williams, but the reality is loyalty is taking a back seat to economic realities," said Juan Gunam with Community and Economic Development in Niles.
Ganum says it's a doubled edged sword – the city welcomes any new business, but it can't turn away big chain stores that ultimately bring jobs and sales.
"Who's to say what public interest is by picking one business over another," Ganum said.
Williams guarantees his store offers better service than the chain stores. Most of his employees are experts, they've worked there for 20 to 30 years.
He says he'll miss his staff the most and, of course, his store full of specialty items he must sell off.
The entire store is on sale right now: everything from tools, to machinery, nails, light bulbs, a ton of wood, even William's Harley is on sale for $10,000.
This place was a second home for Williams and his family. It’s tough for them to say goodbye.
But now more than ever, they're still making it all about the customer.
"Thank you so much for all the support you've give us over the past 130 years," Williams said. "It means a lot to our family."
Williams Lumber and Hardware will stay open until everything sells.