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Hardware store auctions off its goods

October 31, 2003|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The store closed last summer, but the auctioning off of its merchandise Thursday and again today brings to harsh reality the fact that Harbaugh's Hardware, a downtown mainstay for more than 60 years, will fade into Waynesboro history.

The store has been in the same location at 43 E. Main St. since the early 1950s, said Joyce Harbaugh. Her husband Lecron's father bought the business in 1942. At that time it was at 22 W. Main St., site of the present Western Auto store. The owner of the Western Auto announced earlier this month that he was closing his business, too.

Lecron Harbaugh took over the business from his father in 1968, Joyce Harbaugh said.

Thursday night, auctioneer Ed Henicle faced a crowd of about 40 bidders as helpers pulled items off the shelves and took them to the block - the stuff of a smalltown hardware store, the likes of which are fast disappearing from the American retail scene.

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Gallons of paint, packages of nails, bundles of small American flags, rolls of wire, fasteners, tools, snow shovels - all the things of a well-stocked hardware store - were being sold under Henicle's hammer.

"I hate losing a good neighbor," said Peter Walters, manager of Edward Jones, an investment firm next door at 35 E. Main St.

"From the council's standpoint, it's sad to see a long-time downtown business close," said Borough Councilman Clint Barkdoll.

"The council needs to reinforce the fact that it and the other downtown promotion groups need to get together and do something about the downtown," he said. "We've lost two important stores in a period of weeks.

"This store will sit empty for a long time," he said of the soon-to-be empty hardware store that takes up two large storefronts on the north side of East Main Street.

Harbaugh's was also the place where local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts went to buy their uniforms, equipment and supplies.

"This store was my father's life," said Amy Harbaugh, 40, Lecron's daughter. "His work was his passion. I used to watch him cut glass. He had very high standards. It was a pleasure watching him work."

Amy Harbaugh said one of her earliest recollections about the store was coming in to sweep the floor when she was a young girl. "I was paid five cents," she said.

Douglas Harbaugh, 12, Any Harbaugh's nephew, said the store was Lecron Harbaugh's second home. "Even when it's gone, we'll still call it the store," he said.

Lecron Harbaugh, 78, sat in a chair up front near Henicle watching a piece of his life history being sold off. A card with bidder number 70 stuck out from his shirt pocket, a small pile of items lay at his feet. He was bidding, too.

The auction resumes at noon today.

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