Gail Libbing (center), the third generation of the family to own the store, holds the hand of her mother, Darlene Scott, while talking with long-time customer Al Hendrickson at Carr’s Hardware on Friday in Marysville. Carr’s Hardware is closing after 93 years in business. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Carr’s Hardware in Marysville to close after nearly 93 years

MARYSVILLE — Carr’s Hardware looks like something from a bygone era.

The classic old storefront sign. The oiled wood-plank flooring. The vintage National cash register clacking away in the middle of the store.

For nearly 93 years, the business was a one-stop shop for all of your needs and for what you probably didn’t need but would buy anyway.

Now the store at 1514 Third St. is shutting down; the family that has owned it over the years is stepping away.

“It’s just the right time to bow out gracefully,” said Gail Libbing, the third generation of the family to own the store. “Business is still good. The big box stores didn’t push us out. The timing is just right for our family.”

Businesses open and close everyday. But Carr’s Hardware is something different, a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting, a piece of nostalgia that just continued.

Take the morning crew.

For years, a handful of people who live in Marysville have stopped by the backroom of the hardware store to drink coffee — they hang their own cups near the refrigerator — and talk about the news of the day.

“It’s kind of like the pot-bellied stove,” Gail Libbing said. “There’s just no pot-bellied stove anymore. It happens pretty much every morning, six days a week. We’ll be cramping their style.”

A judge used to be part of the klatch. Another member of the group worked for the city of Marysville. For the most part, it was people in town coming to talk informally. They mainly had no link to the shop, although one of the frequent ringleaders, Clarence Dosie, worked at the store until 1985.

At coffee last week, Dosie, 91, and the others joked about where they would go after Carr’s closes.

“I don’t know yet, we haven’t made up our minds,” Dosie said. “Maybe we’ll meet out in the parking lot.”

Still, Carr’s was very much a working store, serving the needs of the community. Wheelbarrows, garbage cans and rakes and shovels line the sidewalk for sale.

Inside, fan belts of all sizes hang from one wall. Along the other wall are shelves with Pyrex measuring cups, muffin tins and cookie sheets.

Packs of chalk. Bags of rubber bands. Ball canning jars. Paint supplies in the back. A lone Daisy Red Ryder BB gun sits just out of arm’s reach of children.

What wasn’t on hand, the store could order through co-op partner Ace Hardware.

In 1923, Milford Carr opened the store at its current location. He had been a blacksmith in town, shoeing horses and working at a forge on First Street, which was then Front Street. In 1921, he decided to put up a building on Third Street as an investment.

When the building didn’t attract any tenants, Carr heard about a general store in Mount Vernon going out of business and selling its stock. Carr negotiated a price for the store’s remaining inventory. He brought it down to Marysville and opened Carr’s Hardware.

Carr and his two stepsons, Bruce and Howard Scott, were the key workers. In 1948, Carr hired 16-year-old Darlene Campbell, who had been taking bookkeeping classes in high school.

Campbell’s aunt had been in the store and learned they needed some help and sent her to apply. Campbell got the job.

That’s where she met Bruce Scott. They married in 1951. She’s spent 68 years as a part of Carr’s Hardware.

“When I say it out loud, it sounds ridiculous, but that’s what the timing is,” Darlene Scott said. “It’s been wonderful.”

Bruce Scott convinced his stepdad to double the size of the building. (Half of the floor is the oiled wooden planks; the newer half is concrete.) Eventually, Bruce and Darlene Scott took over the store from Milford Carr.

Carr died in 1978. His stepson, Bruce Scott, passed away in 1997, leaving Darlene Scott to run the business with the help of daughter Gail Libbing.

About three years ago, Libbing’s husband, Maurice, joined the business.

Gail Libbing remembers growing up in the store. She and her brother would ride displayed bicycles around the aisles, and her brother once knocked over a gumball machine, which shattered, spilling gumballs everywhere.

The Libbings’ own children, Jessi and Nicholas, had their own misadventures in the store, including one time when 18-month-old Nicholas climbed to the third-rung from the top of the bolt-bin ladder.

Now, with the children grown, their dog Indi, short for Indiana, has the run of the store.

The Libbings and Scott will keep the store open until all of the stock and fixtures are sold. They’ll lease out the building to another business. They plan to travel and take Darlene Scott to see family. Eventually, the Libbings will find something else to do.

The family sent out a letter to customers and neighbors about the closure last week and shut the store down for three days to prepare.

When they re-opened on Thursday, there was a a line out the door in the morning, and hundreds of people came to get hugs and to pick up a little something for the home.

“It was mind-boggling, it was wonderful, and the nice thing about it was there were maybe a lot of people that I didn’t know but there were so many of our regular customers who came in and purchased as well,” Gail Libbing said. “I didn’t know if the regular people would be mad.”

Jim Davis: 425-339-3097; jdavis@heraldnet.com.

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