Ludeman's closing after three decades in Beaverton
Sales will liquidate stock at one of Portland area's few specialty fireplace and patio furniture shops
Back in the 1970s, Mark Ludeman bought a rototiller without telling his wife, Jennifer, and soon found himself tilling neighbors' gardens for a little extra cash.
Pretty soon he was mowing their lawns, then cleaning their chimneys.
By 1980, the side business took over and the couple opened their own Ludeman's fireplace store in a building in Aloha that has long since been demolished.
The business moved into Beaverton, and it has been a fixture along Southwest Canyon Road for the past 32 years.
Ill never forget moving in here and thinking, What am I going to do with all this space.
Turns out that wasnt an issue. Ludeman's kept expanding through the years, adding barbecues, woodstoves, patio furniture, farm and garden supplies and healing ponds to their extensive fireplace inventory. Over the decades, Ludeman's spread out into several of the buildings in the heart of Beaverton, including a decade-long run of what had been one of the regions largest Christmas specialty shops.
We did all kinds of things, he said. We never dreamed we were going to be in business so long.
Even today, after theyve scaled back somewhat in the face of increased competition from online and big box retailers, Mark Ludeman said their business goes out on top as the Portland areas last true specialty shop for both fireplaces and patio furniture.
But now the Ludemans, who get up early to milk cows and collect eggs at home on their 40-acre farm in rural Buxton before heading to the store, are ready to slow down a little.
Maybe a lot.
After a brief closure to organize, Ludeman's this week is beginning four to six weeks of liquidation sales as the couple prepares for retirement. While the store will close this summer, their service department will remain open through September.
Weve just been blessed with so many wonderful customers, Jennifer Ludeman said.
At the business peak, Ludeman's did about $4 million per year in sales and employed up to 25 people, while their current staff of six for a smaller operation includes several long-time employees.
Mark Ludeman said online and big box discounters have cut into their bottom line over the years, but the company survived on its reputation for service and its inventory of less-common and higher-quality products.
After they liquidate the store and potentially sell off their farm, the travel-loving couple plans to move across the globe to Bali, Indonesia, which appeals to them in part because its residents predominantly practice Hinduism, which Mark Ludeman said is part of our inner life.
Were excited about it, Jennifer Ludeman added. Were really looking forward to traveling some more and resting and swimming and reading.
Ludeman's is located at 12675 S.W. Canyon Road and online at ludemans.com.
By Eric Apalategui
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