Dunsmuir Hardware

The traditional hardware store of Dunsmuir - California's historic railroad town. Founded by Dunsmuir's first mayor - Alexander Levy - in 1894 and continuing today as a full service TRUE VALUE hardware store. This blog is simply intended to be a running commentary on operating a century old small town hardware store. Also please check our our website at

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Location: Dunsmuir, California

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Never have we experienced a time like this!  But then nobody else has either.  We're considered an "essential business" like other hardware and building supply type businesses so have remained open through March, April, May and now June.  Business has been phenomenal and we've been breaking records for sales and customer count.  Folks who are out of their jobs and stuck at home still have needs - life goes on.  If the toilet isn't working it needs to be fixed.  It's springtime and time to plant the garden.  It's a good time to paint the bedroom.  The lawnmower needs repair.  It's fishing season and the weather is perfect.  All of those things and more have contributed to our business and we're pleased to be here to help our customers through these times.   It's nice that we keep hearing "so glad that you're here for us" from our customers so I guess we are "essential".
     It has been a challenge!  The "supply chain" is broken.  Due to lay-offs and closures, manufacturers have fallen behind in supplying products.  Import of foreign goods has been interrupted.  Warehouses have fallen behind due to worker shortages.  Delivery services have been slowed by the same things.  All this while demand for products is up - way up!  Shortages started with toilet paper and paper towels and then grew to include all sorts of sanitation needs - gloves and masks and sanitizers.  Then shortages began in all sorts of other products including many of the things we regularly stock.  At present we have pages and pages of backordered items and we're doing our best to keep our shelves stocked. 
     It seems to be working out as manufacturing and distribution and deliveries catch up with the high demand.  We're starting to receive things that we've been out of since March. 
     All of this means that we're coming to appreciate just how "essential" Dunsmuir Hardware truly is and how our community depends on us to supply its needs.  We continue to have inquiries by people interested in our business for sale, but not as many as before all this.  And understandably there haven't been any offers to buy as potential buyers are holding back and waiting to see where this is all going.  We believe however, that this is an opportune time for a buyer.  The potential of our business is evident in the record breaking sales we're experiencing.  And predictions are that there will be a lot of folks looking for opportunities in small towns like ours to move away from urban centers.  Understandably!     

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Well, we're still here and still looking for a buyer.  We've had several serious lookers but no offers yet.  We understand that this is a difficult store to sell since it is a unique business - 125 year old building - old time atmosphere - modern True Value inventory - lots of antiques that go with the business when we sell.   And we're selling a lifestyle - great small town environment, wonderful customer base, most of them we know by name, wholesome and fulfilling business that is a keystone business in the community, and - - - OUR BUSINESS HAS JUST BEEN GIVEN AN AWARD!

Previously we have been the recipients of the Business of the Year Award from our Chamber of Commerce, and we've been honored with the Citizen of the Year award, the Ambassador of the Year award, the Alexander Dunsmuir award (like a lifetime achievement award), and have been given many "In Appreciation" awards over the years.  Just to show how our business fits in this great community. 

Today, our local newspaper has informed us that we have been named the "Best Hardware Store" in our county.  They conduct an annual vote with their readers to name the "Best" in a number of categories - best Mexican restaurant, best auto mechanic, best book store, and so on.  And we were voted the "Best Hardware Store."  And that means a lot to us because it means that our customers appreciate what we do and have chosen us.  It's one more reason why our store is a great opportunity for a buyer.     

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Two Years Later

So here it is two years after that horrific day in January, 2015 when our world was shattered.  Amazing how something that dramatic can begin to fade in memory as things get put back together and life gets its rhythm back again.  The store has come together nicely and it should have!  Closed nearly six months - all new glass across the front - new entry-way - refinished floor new display shelves for the destroyed ones and freshened up and repainted for the undamaged ones - all new inventory to replace the lost - new customer check-out counter that is a copy of the old one - new computer system to replace the destroyed one.  Our customers were great!  Very supportive of us while we were closed and many many good wishes for us to get back into operation.  We did a regular ad in our local weekly newspaper that kept readers up to date on our progress and what was happening in the renovation.  A touching moment was when the TRUE VALUE truck pulled up in front of the store to deliver our first re-stocking shipment and folks on the walkway applauded and cheered. 

We kept our store listed for sale during the closure and actually the store is now in better shape than before the crash so is a better deal for  buyer.  We've had many inquiries from prospective buyers and some fairly serious ones.  We recognize though that our store is pretty unique and it will take a pretty unique buyer who appreciates the history and heritage of the store and its importance in the business district of our town.  We continue to hope that a new owner will carry on the traditional hardware store but at the same time bring new ideas and new energy that will carry it forward. 

We've always had a theory that on the first of March people turn over the page on their calendar and say - "Oh - - - it's March!  Spring is coming!  I need to spade the garden.  I need to paint the garage.  I need to fix the fence."  and our business clicks into a higher gear than in February (which we jokingly call the "armpit of the year" - slow business, short days, crappy weather) and that seems to be happening this year as in previous ones.  Today is the 4th day of March and we're feeling an up-tick in business that bears the promise of a good spring and summer.  We're ready.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


January 9, 2015.  Minding my own business - doing my normal mundane stuff - a brisk Friday afternoon at the hardware store - when all hell broke loose.  Incredible noise and a mind boggling sight as a car came crashing through the front of our store.  My mind kicked into slow motion (I'm told that this is a reaction to a sudden adrenelin boost).  The car came drifting past me so close that I could have touched it but I would have had to reach up to do that - it was airborne!  Debris - broken glass - pieces of masonry - wood and metal - flying in every direction.  My brain is saying "what the hell is a car doing in my store?"  Then the car stopped - 50ft into the center of the store - and life clicked into real time again.  I looked for the lady I had just been talking with, right in the path of the car, and she wasn't there!  I honestly can't express the feeling I had as the realization hit me that she was under the car and I knew she was dead !  I climbed over piles of debris to get to the car, which was still running, braced up against our now demolished heavy oak check-out counter.  She wasn't there!  A movement caught my eye and I realized she was right next to me - buried under glass and metal and wood fragments that I dug through to get to her.

EMTs and CHPs and Firefighters converged.  The lady under the debris was bruised and battered but not seriously hurt and nobody else was injured either.  The driver of the car - an elderly lady who I'm told should not have been driving - had a small cut on her hand.  Miraculous?  I think so!  Nobody died.  Nobody was seriously hurt.  How such a sudden violent thing could happen, mid-day in the center of the store where there are always people in the path is almost unbelievable.

Our store is closed.  We're guessing six weeks to two months before we'll be able to open.  Our store front with our beautiful heavy wood and glass doors with brass trim is demolished.  The doors are gone.  The large glass windows are gone.  There is a path of destruction that ended at our heavy oak check-out counter - it's demolished - littered with shattered merchandise displays,  A lot of inventory was destroyed.  Our point-of-sale computer is dead, along with printers and scanners.  Our fish and game computer used for license sales is dead.   There is broken glass all over the store from the front windows and from the glassware display the car crashed through.  It's as if a bomb went off.  Our back office computer was compromised with the sudden and violent disruption of connections between it and the point-of-sale, but we've been able to get it back up with the help of our computer support people.  That means we didn't loose data but we can't process sales.

The seemingly slow process of dealing with insurance - ours as well as the driver's - has begun and is moving ahead.  We're well insured (should be for as much as we pay for our coverage) so aren't worried about that but the red tape gets a bit tangled up.  Many folks ask us what we'll be doing with all our time off while repairs take place.  Ha!  Quite the contrary!  We'll be here endlessly dealing with insurance, claims, contractors, computer people, and all that.  To say nothing of trying to make sense out of the shambles that our store is in right now.  Sorting destroyed stuff from undamaged stuff and trying to figure out how we'll inventory it all to calculate our loss and file our claim.  It will all work out - somehow.

The picture posted here was taken just minutes after the crash and the haze in the air is from the tires on the car which were still spinning and smoking for a time while the driver still had her foot in the gas.  Emergency people were just arriving.  Our lives had just changed.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


So here we are - eighteen months after we listed the store for sale and - it's still for sale.  Going into this we knew that it wouldn't happen overnight.  Selling a business in a fragile small town economy and a shaky national economy is a challenge and we're challenging it.  We've had interested parties, "nibbles" as we call them and that's fine.  We know that a "bite" will start with a "nibble."  We've had inquiries from out of the area and locals as well and our broker tells us they fall into two categories - the ones who say "If I was only 20 years younger", and the ones who say "If I only had the money."  We have confidence in our broker - he has us all over the internet and in realtor oriented resources all over the area as well as advertising all over the area.  He even did a pretty neat video that can be accessed online.  Everybody we talk to says our price is reasonable and the store is desirable and the opportunities are great.  We're convinced that the buyer is out there - - - we just haven't connected yet.  In the meantime, we're anxious to get the store sold and retire while we still have our health and energy to do some things we've wanted to for a long time. 

Friday, May 10, 2013


Well, we've taken the plunge and have listed the store for sale.  This is a milestone in our lives that hasn't been easy to come to grips with.  We bought this business in 1975 as our escape from the city; a way to raise our kids in a small town environment, a way to get ourselves back to the small town environment that we were born and raised in, a way to have a slower, more rewarding, healthier lifestyle than we were experiencing in the city, and a way to be independent shapers of our own destiny.  It has done all of that. 

Now we're faced with the reality that we're getting tired.  Thirty-eight years is enough - even when it's something as good as what we've had.  We've had a wonderful life in a precious small town with good people all around us.  Pure water - clean air - slow pace of life - and a way to make a living that we enjoy each and every day.  How many people go to work each day dreading it.  How blessed we are to truly enjoy what we do.  But we're getting tired.

It's time to sell the store and step away from it.  Let somebody else live the dream that we've had while we live the dream of relaxing and enjoying what we've built. 

Signing our names on the papers to actually list the store for sale was an emotional moment.  We've taken the plunge.  Now we'll wait to see who will step up to carry on our store.  It's a classic store.  A small town hardware store dealing with real people and real situations.  We're part of the town's historic district and have savored the history of the town and the way our store is such an integral part of it.  And it will continue to be a part of it when new owners step up.  Our dream is that some young couple with school age kids - just like us 38 years ago - will take it over.  People with the motivation to be a part of the community, to preserve the store's history, and to savor this special place.  The mountains, the river, and water, the air, and this special place.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hardware store for sale.  Guess it’s time.

So here’s the deal.  My wife and I bought Dunsmuir Hardware in 1975.  It was an opportunity for us to get our kids (and ourselves too) out of the city and move toward a slower, more wholesome, healthier and more meaningful lifestyle.  And in thirty seven years it has been all that and more.  Now it’s time for us to realize that it has come to that point in our lives when we have to let go of it.  It isn’t easy. 

We love our old store.  It has made it possible for us to live a great life.  It hasn’t made us rich in a monetary sense but it has made us rich in life experience.  We live in a beautiful place – next to the beautiful upper Sacramento River in the Siskiyou range of the Cascade mountains.  Situated in a forested park-like setting at the base of Mount Shasta with four beautiful seasons each year.  Wonderful and friendly small-town people.  Clean air.  Pure water.  Peaceful lifestyle. 

Dunsmuir is a town of around 1500 people – plus or minus – with its own schools, library, parks, city government, and its historic business district – of which Dunsmuir Hardware is perhaps the most significant contributor.  The town is located just off Interstate 5 which connects to Redding, California (50 miles to the south) and Medford, Oregon (150 miles to the north), so we have access to city “culture” if we need it.  The somewhat bigger town of Mount Shasta City (which has a large modern medical facility) is just 8 miles north of us and the charming towns of McCloud and Weed are each about 15 miles away.

Our building – which dates from 1916 – sits in the middle of the Dunsmuir Historic Business District.  It has been re-wired and re-roofed and re-decorated inside and out within the recent past.  It is roughly 100ft deep and 50ft wide and has a basement under the back half which we rent out to a builder.  The floor is the original natural red fir that was most likely cut and milled locally back in 1916.  The 17ft high ceiling is embossed tin that was installed in 1995.  It is virtually the same as the original pattern that would have been popular in 1916.  Lighting is modern fluorescent in fixtures that were also installed in 1995 but which have an antique appearance as do the ceiling fans.  We installed a modern state of the art heating system three years ago that keeps our winter heating bill to a moderate level and we supplement that with the old wood stove that gives our store so much warmth on cold winter days.  The building is in great shape for a 96 year old structure. 

Our business?  You can probably see it best by just taking a look at our website – .  There you will find a pretty complete picture of our products and services, our history, and our way of doing business.  We have three employees – middle age guys who represent our store well.  It’s a friendly and relaxed environment and we’re on a first name basis with most of our customers.  They appreciate the time we’re willing to spend with them helping them to complete a project, fix something, select a gift for somebody, answer their questions, or discuss the weather.  Current economic conditions have had a minimal effect on our store.  While building is way down, home repair business is up.  If you can’t sell your home, you still need to maintain it.  Tourist business seems as strong as ever.   

We’re a True Value hardware store and are served well by True Value.   Roughly 80% of our inventory comes from True Value and the remainder is from other independent suppliers, particularly in the area of sporting goods and giftwares.  We receive weekly deliveries from True Value and our pricing is highly competitive.  Our point-of-sale computer system is tremendously valuable in controlling our inventory, ordering, pricing, and managing our inventory.  It also does our accounts receivable and provides management reports.  We are a license agent for the California Department of Fish and Game and we sell fishing and hunting licenses through a dedicated computer system.  We also accept electric power payments for Pacific Power and Light which brings a lot of traffic into our store as people come in to pay their bills. 

What do we want to sell?  The whole package.  What we can offer is a “turn-key” business opportunity.  A buyer can step into an established and well managed business and take off with it.  There are no doubt new ideas that new owners could bring and which could grow the business into new areas.  We want to sell the business with its established reputation and customer base, the building, all the fixtures and equipment (computers, pipe threading equipment, custom paint tinting, tools and supplies), and all of the antiques that are part of the image of the business.  Our antique collection is legendary and without exaggeration there are thousands of dollars worth of antique tools, hardware, housewares, documents, pictures, cans and bottles.  They belong in the store and will go with it.
We could go on and on telling about our business but this – and our website – covers the high points.   Please feel free to contact us if you have any interest or questions or know somebody who might like to consider the opportunity.  We have not listed the business with a realtor yet – just want to see if we can find a buyer ourselves first.  Our contact information is on our website.  Please take a look.