Woodstock Hardware Set to Have New Owner

Valley News Business Writer
Published: 11/25/2017 11:21:54 PM
Modified: 11/25/2017 11:21:55 PM

Woodstock — Woodstock Home and Hardware on Route 4 is about to have a new owner: Rick Bibens, owner of the Springfield, Vt.-based chain of Bibens Ace Hardware stores.

Long-time Woodstock Home and Hardware owner Larry Perry is in the process of selling his hardware store located between Pizza Chef and the town’s police and ambulance offices on the east side of Woodstock. Perry and Bibens expect the sale of the business to finalize in January.

Perry, who acquired the hardware store in 1988, said a confluence of events, including turning 65, the birth of a granddaughter, recent shoulder surgery and his wife Susan Morgan’s sale earlier this of Yankee Bookshop came together to persuade him it is time to retire after more than three decades in the hardware store business.

“I think I was just looking at my mortality,” he joked.

Perry said selling Woodstock Home & Hardware to Bibens was a natural choice because they have known each other for 30 years — first when Biben was a customer of Perry’s when he was a regional sales manager for Makita Power Tools and later as owners of stores under the Ace Hardware retail cooperative umbrella.

“In looking to the future, I wanted to make certain the buyer would keep the staff and continue to run the business with an eye to being involved in the community and Bibens is that type of person,” Perry said.

The purchase of Woodstock Home and Hardware — Perry added a home decorating service in 2003 — will be the seventh store in Bibens’ Vermont chain, which also has stores in Brattleboro, Burlington, Colchester, Essex and South Burlington. Bibens entered the business when he acquired his father’s Springfield hardware store and lumber yard in 1983 and has steadily expanded since.

“The message is business as usual,” Bibens said. “We’re not here to upset the apple cart. Larry has run a very successful business.”

Previously owned by Erwin Rogers, a Woodstock painting projector, the store was earlier known as Rogers Paint Spot. Perry initially renamed the store Woodstock Ace Hardware, The Paint Spot Inc., but given the unwieldy name “that was a mistake,” Perry said.

When the current building came up for sale in 1989, Perry relocated from its prior location near the Sunoco station in East Woodstock, Perry said he would continue to own the building in which the hardware store is located.

But one thing that might disappear with the change in owners are the jokes that Perry puts on a sign outside the store that are legendary around Woodstock.

Perry said that the messages on the sign have been evenly divided among community messages, store promotions — and sometimes sassy humor.

Among some recent samples: “Politicians should dress like NASCAR drivers so we known who’s sponsoring them,” “Get Wall Street’s attention — do all your shopping at a local independent business,” “The misuse of literally makes me figuratively insane” and “Trump’s wives were immigrants — proving again they’ll do jobs Americans won’t” and “Make America great again — Deport Donald Trump.”

The anti-Trump messages have won the store praise on liberal online news sites, but derision and angry phone calls to the store from Trump supporters.

Asked if the political-leaning messages would continue under his ownership, Bibens laughed and said, “I don’t know about that.”

Valley News

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