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Prineville Hardware to close/Emporium to open


   
   There is a spate of bad news and good news for local retail shoppers; Prineville Hardware is closing and will be replaced by an Emporium clothing store while another local hardware store remains closed
   The owners of the Prineville Hardware store in the Ochoco Plaza are calling it quits. The store has been sold to the Troutman's Emporium Company and the hardware store owners, Gary and Anthony Hackman, have 75 days to turn over the keys. The new owners, Gary Hackman said, want to be open early in August, "in time for the back to school sales."
   John Schiff, president of Emporium stores, was contacted in Ontario, Oregon where one of the company's stores is being enlarged. "We'll be open in Prineville on or before August 1," he said. "We move real fast."
   At the present time there are 34 Emporium stores, Prineville's will be the 35th. Schiff said the company opened six new stores last year, and expect to open four more this year. "We closed three last year and opened six. The three were in shopping centers that were not doing well, and we decided to close them down."
   Typically, Emporium stores are in the 35,000 to 40,000 square foot range. Prineville's store will be one of the smaller stores, about 24,000 square feet. "This is a little smaller, but its a good size for that area," Schiff said. "We have a good customer base in Prineville, people who have been shopping at the Bend store. It's a good situation for us."
   Although Gary Hackman opened his first hardware store in Prineville about 18 years ago, when the doors finally close on the Prineville Hardware store, it will mark the end of his 27-year career in the business. He started in the hardware business in Prineville, buying a small Coast-To-Coast store in 1983.
   "We first rented a building behind the Senior Center from Bud Schrum," Hackman said. "After about three years there, I moved to the Quonset building on Third Street, where the Community First Bank is now. I was there ten years. I should have stayed there."
   Hackman said times have changed and being successful in the hardware business isn't easy anymore. It's the big box stores, he believes, that have caused the change. "You don't have the mom and pop grocery stores any more, and you don't have the mom and pop hardware stores, either. It's a national trend and we're losing the independent stores."
   Hackman said he started in the hardware business in 1974 when he bought his first Coast to Coast store. At one time he had seven stores, but now they are all gone. Owning and working in hardware stores are all his son, Anthony, knows, the elder Hackman said.
   "Anthony was only four years old when we opened the first one. Now all we're going to have are big box stores and small boutique mom and pop stores that will have to specialize."
   While things at the hardware store have been slow recently, Hackman said he closed his store in Madras when the new BiMart Store opened, and pumped that money into the Prineville store, he said the recent opening of the BiMart Store east of the Plaza isn't the only reason he's selling out. "It wasn't really BiMart. That hurt but we just can't go on with all the mill layoffs and now with the federal government going to Bend or Redmond. The people in this city should kiss old Les Schwab: He's sticking it out."
   To turn the keys over to the Emporium company, the hardware store will have to be emptied by early July. Hackman's close out sale will begin this week and not end until all the $1.25 million in stock is gone.
   Another Prineville hardware store, McCarthy's Ochoco Hardware on Court and Third Streets, remains closed. That store closed its doors some time ago when the owner declared bankruptcy. The building owners, Lawrence and Ellie Mayfield, have been unable to sell the stock and do anything with the structure until the legal aspects of the bankruptcy have been settled.
   Ellie Mayfield said when that happens, they don't plan to sell the remaining stock in a public sale but will liquidate to another business. Once that is done, she added, a new business will open at the location. "We have somebody waiting in the wings," she said. "There will be new occupancy."
   Mayfield would not elaborate on who the new occupant will be.