South Side Hardware Store Closing After Nearly 130 Years
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CHICAGO (CBS) – A mom-and-pop hardware store that’s been around since the 1880s will soon be closing for good.
After 128 years in business, Zweifel Hardware, at 345 W. 25th Pl. on the border between Chinatown and Bridgeport, will be closing in the next few weeks, according to owner Dave Zweifel.
He said the store has been in the neighborhood since his great-grandfather opened in 1886 down the street at 25th and Wentworth, before what is now Chinatown even existed.
The store opened at its current location in 1957, after the first store was torn down to make way for the Dan Ryan Expressway.
Zweifel said he has to close the store, because he continues to lose money. He said the recession, taxes, and the store’s inconvenient location on a side street nearly under the Dan Ryan and across the street from a Metra/Amtrak viaduct all are reasons the business has struggled.
He said he tried to get his uncle and father to move the store to another location, but they didn’t want to do it. Zweifel said he’s been running the store since about 1989.
Big box stores like The Home Depot also have hurt, as has the expansion of McCormick Place, which he said took away some of the major area companies that often bought items from him.
“I’m paying the bills, but I can’t take care of the building,” Zweifel said.
The 57-year old hardware store owner, on the verge of becoming emotional, said it’s “upsetting” to him that he has to close, given how long his family has had a hardware business in the area.
Zweifel said he hopes he can find another independent hardware store that can use his experience.
He said his great-grandfather first sold the store to his grandfather in 1906 for $1,000. Others in the family weren’t too happy about that, and thought $1,000 was too little a price.
Zweifel said, during the Great Depression, family lore has it that his uncle would get angry at his grandfather “for giving things away.”
He said sometime next month, he’ll close the store for a week, then re-open with all the signage up and discounts listed to try to sell as much merchandise as possible.
At one point, he had as many as 10 full and part-time employees, but he let the last employee go a year ago, and he said it’s been hard doing everything himself.