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Neikirk's inventory is going ... going ... gone

February 12, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Jamie Neikirk spent much of Sunday morning sitting in a back room listening as about 200 people bid on inventory left over from years of operating a downtown decorating business.

He walked to the front only briefly to start the auction.

Neikirk said he couldn't watch. Not because he felt any attachment to the fabric being sold for $2 a roll, but because the sale represented the "end of an era."

"I had to get out of there," he said.

Neikirk's and its predecessor occupied the building at 66 W. Franklin St. for 62 years. Neikirk sold part of his business to Space Crafters Inc. last year, and he has been vice president of that company and manager of the Williamsport division since August 2006.

Neikirk's closed that same day, and he said the items being sold Sunday had been stored since then. The auction was scheduled because the building is under contract and the sale is expected to close at the end of the month.

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Neikirk said an out-of-town company interested in opening a business in the building has made the offer, but he said he did not want to name the company as it might interfere with the sale.

Neikirk was joined at the auction by his father, William "Buzz" Neikirk, the business' first employee when it opened in 1945. It was owned at the time by J. Ralph Fiery.

Twenty years later, William Neikirk bought the business from Fiery, and roughly 20 years after that, Jamie Neikirk bought the business from his father.

"It's hard," Jamie Neikirk said. "Just the fact that there's no more Neikirk's."

The estimated 10,000 items going to the highest bidder included wallpaper, rugs, fabric, drapery, tools and other equipment.

Another reason Neikirk said he couldn't watch the items being sold was the prices.

"Something that cost me $50 is probably going for $5," he said.

Some said the low prices were part of their reason for attending the auction.

"I've always wanted to come," said Dorian Runt of Mercersburg, Pa. "This might be the first time I can actually afford anything."

Runt said it was her first trip to Neikirk's, but she has heard of them and said they are known for quality. She is renovating a home and was hoping to find items to fit with her Colonial style. She said she was eyeing some area rugs she planned to bid on.

Kevin Kelly of Myersville, Md., said his wife recently opened a drapery workroom.

"We came here just to see what we could find to help her along," he said.

What wasn't sold most likely will be thrown out. Neikirk said he had already taken more than 20 dump truck loads of garbage from the building.

He said he didn't sell the business for a lack of customers. In fact, his business was thriving.

But Neikirk said he would like to retire in five to six years and decided the opportunity to sell now was a good one.

"I'm glad that I did it," he said. "But it's still hard. I was raised in this store. When I was 6 years old, I came here to do my homework."

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