Well-wishers say goodbye to Pelzl’s hardware store
With a flip of a sign from open to closed, Pelzl's Do-It best Hardware and V and S Variety Store, a 29-year staple of downtown Tonganoxie, closed for the last time Saturday.
"It's sad," Don Pelzl said about his store's closing. "I'll miss the customers the most. We had an awful lot of good customers and very, very few bad ones."
Saturday morning, family, friends and longtime customers of Pelzl's store came to wish him good luck and say goodbye to the downtown fixture.
Some people even came by to take advantage of the 75 percent discount offered on the remaining merchandise.
At the "Pelzl appreciation day," people were asked to sign the back of a banner that thanked Pelzl for his years in the community or fill out a thank you card that would be pinned to a board with his picture on it.
Asked what it would feel like not having to work at the store anymore, Pelzl wasn't immediately sure.
"I'll probably feel a little lost because I don't have to come in," he joked. "It will feel different. It will take a while to realize that I am not married to the store."
Not only will Pelzl miss the customers and employees, but they are going to miss him too.
Although she's not going to miss fixing the greeting card section, Juanita DeMaranville, 20-year employee at the store, said she had mixed emotions about the store's closing.
"I'm glad for Don, but I will miss coming here every day," she said. "I know that Don is ready for retirement. He's been a great boss."
The town also lost the store where residents could find just about anything they wanted.
"There were a lot of unique items that made it different," DeMaranville said. "I've had people that came in and said they had been all over Kansas City and Lawrence looking for a specific item, and they come here and find it. I told them, 'You should have come here first.'"
Customer Jean Walker, who helped out with appreciation festivities, agreed.
"I just don't know how it's going to be without the store here," said Walker, whose daughter had Pelzl as a music instructor before he opened the store.
"If you needed something, it would be here whether it was a sink, hardware, gift-wrapping paper, one screw instead of a dozen. Plus he could tell you what you needed if you had any questions."
Kent Wilson said he was going to miss the stop where he would get his coffee every morning.
"I'm going to miss the service that we get here. It is way better than Wal-Mart," Wilson said. "You just couldn't ask for a better person. He would do anything for a customer; he would bend over backwards for them."
In nearly three decades, Pelzl has accumulated many memories of his downtown store. Among some of his most memorable were an expansion in 1988 and cleanup work from a leaky roof after the tornado hit in 2000.
For retirement, Pelzl said he planned on going on vacation and catching up on some housework.
Jenean Pelzl, Don's wife, said she was going to have Pelzl start on his honey-do list that he has been putting off for 29 years. She, too, was going to miss the great customers they've had through the years, but she said she also was not going to miss her husband having to go to work on cold snowy days.
"We've enjoyed the years we've been in business," Pelzl said.