Hardware leaves lengthy legacy PDF Print E-mail
Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer   
Wednesday, 16 January 2013 11:10
Bruce Bigode, owner of Mills Hardware in Perrysburg, is closing downtown store (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
PERRYSBURG - Unlike the famous line in the poem, Mills Hardware isn't going out with a whimper, but with a bang.
After more than 85 years in business, the venerable city institution is leaving "on top" according to its owner, Bruce Bigode.
"Just decided to do it because I can," he said.
"It just seemed like the time to do it."
Mills has been in operation since 1928, and moved to its present location in the mid-1960s. The building itself, a two-story edifice at the northwest corner of Louisiana Avenue and Second Street, was built in the 1830s and hosted a number of businesses before Mills moved in.
Bigode, now 51, has been working at Mills since his mid-teens, more than 35 years ago. He now owns the business and the building itself, which includes three rental properties upstairs as well as the business space below.
"Just decided it was time," he re-iterated, "go out on top rather than waiting on down the road." Competition with other area hardwares, he said, didn't at all factor into the equation of why he decided to close the store.
Bigode noted that, unlike past owners, he doesn't have a business partner to turn the operation over to.
"There's not another one coming. I figured I might as well just do something now instead of waiting until I'm in my 60s or something and ask 'Why didn't I do that 10 years ago and have a life left?'"
Bigode noted that he prayed a great deal over the decision, and that he was concerned with what his employees would do. However, they have since secured other employment, made plans for schooling or, in one case, already had retirement aims of their own.
"That was the big, big concern," he said. "And they're all taken care of."
A sign outside of the business now reads "Mills Is Closing in 2013. Thank You! For a Great 85 Years," and the news has drawn quite a bit of reaction from loyal customers. Initially, they expressed sadness, he said, often because they thought that Bigode has been driven to close by the economy.
"Once they understand the reasoning, it's not so bad," he said, though he did note that some have become teary-eyed over the news.
"Been here a long time," he admitted. "It's going to be kind of the same for me."
Bigode said he will greatly miss both his customers, and his employees.
"You get them when they're 15 or 16, and see them grow up working with you."
He said that liquidation sales at the business will begin on Monday and, if things proceed according to plan, the store may close at the end of February to prepare for new renters.

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