St. Paul hardware store to close after nearly 100 years in business

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It's been a part of St. Paul's Midway neighborhood since 1926. Now, after nearly 100 years in business, Hamline Hardware is getting ready to close its doors.

A liquidation sale starts on Thursday at 8 a.m. The owners hope to have the shelves cleared by Mar. 28.

Jim and Jan Gildner are getting ready to start a new chapter in their lives.

"It gets emotional from time to time, we have a lot of wonderful customers," said Jim Gildner. 

They bought the business 10 years ago from the Hagen family, which opened the store and ran it for three generations. 

Jim and Jan Gildner bought it in May 2010. At the time, Jim Gildner was working for a wholesale company, facilitating the sale of hardware stores. 

"I think he always wanted his own hardware store," said Jan Gildner. "I think it's a lot more sad for him."

They bought it with their two sons. The Gildner's planned to have their sons take over eventually, but both left the business over the years to pursue other opportunities.

Now, Jim and Jan have reached retirement age, and their lease is coming up.

They've tried selling the business for nearly three years.

"We're committed to a liquidation, unfortunately," said Jim Gildner. "Didn't want to do it, but that's the only way we can move on without getting involved in another lease."

He is leaving a 54-year career in the hardware industry, which included getting to know customers over the last decade.

"That have supported us," he said. "We really feel badly that's really our only downfall, if there is one, is that we couldn't find a buyer for the store because we really had hoped we could do that."  

His wife agrees. 

"They're just wonderful people, it's a great, great neighborhood to be in," said Jan Gildner. "They support us and they come in and they know us by name. That part of it is really sad, it is."

The store is closed as they get ready for the liquidation sale, which will include $2,000 worth of prizes for people who come in and shop. 

"Jim has always put people into stores, that's what he did," said Jan Gildner. "He's never helped people get out, so it's all new to us."

As they work to empty the inventory, they are still hopeful the store will stay on Snelling Avenue. 

"We hope someone comes along and just takes it to another level," said Jim Gildner.

They told us they're looking forward to retirement, which will include more time with their grandchildren and traveling.