PORT ANGELES — It’s the end of an era.
The owners of Bay Variety, an old-fashioned five and dime store at 135 W. First St., in Port Angeles, are preparing to close the shop for good after efforts to sell the business over the past several months proved unsuccessful.
Rudy Hiener and his daughter, Michele Adolphsen, who owns Bay Variety, expect to permanently close the store by mid-May.
The two said that customers already have been sending them cards and expressing how sad they are after learning the store is closing.
“We’re going to miss our customers,” Hiener said. “A lot of people have come in and some have even shed some tears.”
The Port Angeles variety store will be closed today, but will reopen Thursday with steep discounts as Hiener and Adolphsen sell off the rest of their stock.
What isn’t sold will be donated to the Clallam County Historical Society to sell during its annual garage sale, Hiener said.
The store has been a fixture in the Port Angeles downtown since 1949, though at the time it was called Diamonds 5 cents to $1. It became Rasco Variety Store in 1957, Heiner said.
His family purchased the store in 1972 and then in 1986 renamed it Bay Variety. In 2003, he sold it to his daughter, Adolphsen.
“It’s sad we’re going to have to close,” Heiner said. “There’s not many stores like this left, unfortunately. It’s kind of an end of an era.”
Adolphsen said it’s time for her to let go of the store. She said foot traffic isn’t what it used to be, and sales are down.
She also said they both need a break.
“He needs to retire, and as long as I’m still here, he’s going to keep coming in,” she said. “I’d like for him to retire and I’d like to take some time off myself.”
She said keeping the store afloat has meant working just about every day. With so many empty businesses near the store, she said fewer people are stopping by to shop.
“There’s not enough foot traffic downtown for us to keep this going,” she said. “There are a lot of great little stores down here still, but it’s just not enough traffic for a business like this.”
Still, the store has had its loyal customers who know they can get items at Bay Variety that they can’t find anywhere else.
Adolphsen said some of these specialty items include flour sac towels, pate hangers, handkerchiefs, and “a bottle of perfume we’ve always carried that’s been around for probably 100 years.”
She had hoped the store would keep going. For about nine months Adolphsen has been trying to sell her business.
In recent weeks a local woman had offered to purchase the business and continue operating the store as Bay Variety, but the owner of the building did not want to sign a new lease.
Adolphsen said the woman had secured financing to purchase the store, but the deal won’t go through.
Dick McClean, who owns the building, said he is trying to sell the building and that signing a new lease could limit the number of potential buyers.
He said several offers have been made on the building and that whatever business eventually goes into Bay Variety’s location will be up to whomever buys the building, though he didn’t want to go into detail about the potential sale.
McLean said “at my age, it’s time to simplify things,” and sell the property.
“[Bay Variety’s owners] have been wonderful people and I would love to see them continue, but they are wanting to retire also,” McLean said. “Bay Variety has been wonderful people to deal with and I wish them well.”
Adolphsen said she is thankful for her customers and is sad the store couldn’t continue under new ownership.
“We’ve really appreciated the support of the customers we’ve had over the years,” she said. “They’re going to miss us and miss the store.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].