Saturday, April 01, 2000

Store calls it quits

Dohn's a fixture for 77 years

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MIDDLETOWN — David Dohn was just 10 years old when he made his first sale at his father's hardware store. That was 50 years ago.

        Early next month, he'll make his last sale.

        Dohn's Ace Hardware, a popular city landmark, will close, ending a family era that has gone unbroken here nearly eight decades.

        The store was opened on South Main Street in 1923 by Mr. Dohn's grandfather, the late L.S. “Vern” Dohn. It continued with the move to Central Avenue in the mid-1930s, and to its current location on North Broad Street in City Centre Mall in 1945.

        “I was born to sell hardware, but it's just time for a change,” said Mr. Dohn, recalling that first customer who bought a handful of bolts. He took over the business from his father, Ed Dohn, in the mid-1990s.

        “Many of our customers have been coming here for decades,” Mr. Dohn said as he hurried around the store Friday, helping one customer find a bolt, another a tool. “You get to know them, their children and grandchildren. I'm sure they'll miss us. A lot of people are sad. I'll miss the people. But it's a pretty happy situation for me. I'm ready to retire.”

        A combination of factors led to the decision to close May 6.

        The store is still profitable, but sales and profits have dropped in recent years, and it's likely the store will be without a front for a year or more when the city tears off the mall roof late this year, Mr. Dohn said.

        The city is losing more than a business. It's losing a piece of history, said city manager Ron Olson.

        “We hate to lose Dohn's,” Mr. Olson said. “It's one of the oldest businesses in the city.”

        “I just couldn't believe it,” said Jim Carroll, digging in a display of gadgets Friday. “It's going to be sorely missed. It's the only store of its type in the area.”

        “I just love this place,” customerRonda Dalton said. “I think it's the only place left in the world that has my dishes.”


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