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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

TIMES PHOTO: ERIC APALATEGUI - Jennifer and Mark Ludeman are closing their Ludemans store after selling patio furniture, fireplace doors and other home and garden products for more than three decades in Beaverton. Their liquidation sale will last from July 27 until they've sold most of their inventory.
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.

“I’ll never forget moving in here and thinking, ‘What am I going to do with all this space.’”

Turns out that wasn’t 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 region’s 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 they’ve 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 area’s 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.

“We’ve 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.

“We’re excited about it,” Jennifer Ludeman added. “We’re 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
Beaverton Reporter
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