This time the decision is final. Stephens Hardware, a fixture on Broad Street for 78 years, is closing.
Last summer the five Stephens brothers who own the business announced plans to sell it or to close by the end of 2011. They subsequently reversed that decision, in part because potential buyers were wary of the continuing economic slowdown, and longtime customers were persuasive in lamenting the loss of the store with old-fashioned charm along with its updated inventory.
A new decision was made then to make some changes in the store’s offerings and move forward once more.
Last week Wray Stephens who managed the business for 25 years before leaving to work with the North Carolina Methodist Conference, announced that the Stephens store will close this fall, probably by the end of September.
Meanwhile, the store is reducing inventory by offering significant price reductions.
Wray Stephens said no decision has been made about what to do with the building once the store is closed.
Stephens Hardware, as it was generally known in the community, had added a building supply business and a separate building for lighting fixtures and supplies when it reached its peak sales record of $95 million in 2007. At that time Stephens had 94 employees. Then came the recession and a virtual halt to new home building. The company closed its building supplies business and the lighting store. The continuing economic slowdown hurt other sales as well. Today there are seven employees.
The store was founded in 1934 by the late Isaac Stephens. It is now owned by his five sons, Bob, Fred, Jim, Isaac and Wray.