PORT ANGELES — Bay Variety is closing its doors for good at the end of business today, but the space won’t be empty for long.
The building’s new owner, who is moving his family from Florida to Port Angeles, plans to open his First Street Outlet store there sometime in the next few months.
For Rudy Heiner, whose daughter, Michele Adolphsen, owns the old-fashioned five-and-dime at 135 W. First St., it’s bittersweet seeing a new business come in.
He is happy to see a new business filling the space the downtown store has held since 1949, but sad to see the end of the variety store that’s been in his family since 1972.
“I’m glad there’s something going in there,” Heiner said, taking a short break from moving unsold merchandise to the front of the store. “That’s one of the reasons we tried so hard to sell the business is because we didn’t want a big empty spot down here. There’s enough empty spots.”
Heiner’s family had tried selling Bay Variety last month, but the building’s owner, Dick McLean, was working to sell the building and didn’t want to sign a new lease because it could limit the number of potential buyers.
McLean couldn’t be reached by phone Monday.
Heiner said it’s been saddening to see the store’s shelves empty over the last month, but said everything needs to go. What isn’t sold by the end of the day today will be donated to the Clallam County Historical Society to be sold at its annual Garage Sale, typically held in August.
He said people were waiting at the store’s door Monday morning to take advantage of the ongoing sale; All items are marked at 80 percent off and seasonal items are at 90 percent off.
Bay Variety put out cake for its customers Monday and for the past month has had a notebook for its customers to share their memories of the store.
He said one of the comments that struck out was when a man who had washed the store’s windows for many years stopped by, leaving a note in the book and a card for Bay Variety.
“One Christmas I gave him a $20 bill and said here, Merry Christmas,” Heiner said. “He said in all his years washing windows, we were the only ones to give him a Christmas bonus. It was touching.”
Heiner said that though it’s sad to see the store close, it’s a relief to no longer be tied to the family business. He now plans to travel — with a planned trip to England and Norway — and plans to volunteer more in the community.
He said he plans to help out with Habitat for Humanity and is already active with Port Angeles Kiwanis.
“I’m not going to sit home all day and do nothing, but it will be nice to have freedom,” he said. “If I want to go some place one day … I don’t have to worry about the store being covered.”
The store will reopen in the coming months as a new variety store called First Street Outlet, said Jason Medgin of Naples, Fla., who said he is closing on the property in a couple of weeks. He declined to say what he is paying for the building.
Medgin said his family will take possession of the property May 15 and begin work on their new store, which he said will feature used books, graphic novels, household items and sporting goods.
“We’re just a small family business and hoping to bring some value to downtown,” Medgin said Monday. “I know there’s some empty buildings down there, so hopefully more businesses will come down. We’re excited to get going.”
Medgin said he has been in the book business for 20 years and that he expects his new store to also have an online presence.
He said his 11-year-old boy wants to help with the store’s toys and his 16-year-old daughter is interested in clothes.
He said his children want to attend college in the Pacific Northwest and he’s excited to move to the area. He said he was raised near Portland, Ore., but has family in the Sequim and Port Angeles areas.
He said the property caught his eye recently when he visited Port Angeles scouting potential properties for his business. That’s when he said he met the McLeans.
“They wanted to keep a family business in there and that’s how it came about,” he said. “They wanted to see a family come in.”
Medgin said he is looking forward to working with Heiner as he prepares to open his store.
Heiner said he believes Medgin will be successful in his endeavors and has talked with him “quite a bit” in recent weeks.
“I’ll come down and show him how everything works,” Heiner said.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].