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Elmo Studds Building Supply closes doors after 27 years

Lumber store and its marquis sign were a fixture of the community
by: Jaime Valdez Elmo Studd’s Building Supplies closed late last month. The prominent business on Upper Boones Ferry Road was long regarded as a local landmark for its funny signs.

The sign outside of Elmo Studd's Building Supplies in Tigard has long provided area motorists with a witty phrase or local joke. But for the last several days the sign has simply read, 'Closed.'

'We are pretty sick about it. That is not the way we wanted it to end,' said Diane Fagan, who ran the popular hardware store with her husband Bill from 1984 to 2010. 'It's a bit hard to take. That place was kind of our baby.'

Bill and Diane Fagan retired in August 2010. The business is currently owned by Rebel Country Lumber, based in Beaverton.

Repeated calls to Rebel Country Lumber, property owner FC Services, as well as registered owners Rebecca Dawson, of Beaverton and Stephen Parker and Karen Pruitt of Detroit, Ore., were not returned.

The store, located at 16255 S.W. Upper Boones Ferry Road in Tigard, reportedly closed its doors late last month.

'I really am sad to see it go,' said Bill Fagan. 'I've talked to quite a few people since it closed and it's a sad moment.'

Reasons for the business' closure could not be confirmed, but Tigard police were called to the business on Aug. 23 - the day the business reportedly closed - over a disturbance between Studd's employees and a man described as the business' landlord.

The landlord was reportedly yelling at employees, who were 'working through lease negotiations' with the landlord, employees told police.

Bill Fagan's brother Pat Fagan, is a 20-year employee of Studd's and worked under the new ownership. He said he wasn't surprised to see the business close.

'There was no surprise, none whatsoever,' he said. 'Contractors need their materials right away and if it's not there they can't shop there. It was depressing. People would come in and look around and ask if we had this or that, which we didn't. They'd ask, 'Then why am I here?''

The store was well known in the area for its popular readerboard, which delivered words of wisdom and humorous phrases to passersby since the early 1990s.

The sign became a local landmark, with nearby businesses reportedly taking bets on when the sign would change next.

In 2008, the sign's message, 'Blow your fed stimulus check here,' landed the company on the front page of The New York Times.

'There was always an entertaining comment or joke on the marquee,' said Tigard resident Jenn MacDonald. 'We always looked forward to reading it on our drive past the store.'

Over the years, the sign has poked fun at local politicians and businesses - including a quip about a misspelled headline in The Times - and the company dedicated itself to promoting area events.

Tigard High School theater productions used lumber from the hometown hardware store according to Hilary Gibbons, who helped build sets in the mid 1990s. She said she asked the company to advertise an upcoming performance and the message ended up the first of many community announcements the store posted on its beloved sign.

'They didn't hesitate,' Gibbons said. 'They even put it up for us in the pouring rain, and (did it for) every show after that.'

The gesture made an impact.

'They were one of the first businesses that I came in contact with and it left an impression on me as to how a business should give (back) to their community,' she said.