The Canal Winchester Times

Bolenbaugh Hardware to close after 125 years

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Canal Winchester will lose a longtime business at the end of the year when Bolenbaugh Hardware will close after 125 years of continuous operation.

Owner Joe Bitler said it's been a great run.

The downtown Canal Winchester hardware store opened in 1888, according to Bitler. He said a private buyer made him "a very good offer" for the building at 4 E. Waterloo St., which led to the decision to close.

"I didn't have anyone to hand the store down to and I've been approaching retirement," Bitler said.

"So when I was approached with a very good offer for the building, I figured the timing was right. At this point, my understanding is that the hardware store will be replaced with another retail business."

Bitler said he couldn't identify the buyer or comment on the sale price.

He said he will work to sell off the rest of the inventory and store fixtures through the end of December.

"There's a lot of good memories in this shop and it's been a great run," Bitler said. "This has been a great store for 125 years now and has allowed me to meet some great people and work with so many wonderful businesses."

According to Bitler, decisions made in the 1980s by city officials are paying dividends for Canal Winchester's downtown now, making it a place where businesses and residents want to spend their time.

"Back in the 1980s, city officials saw a need to improve the infrastructure of downtown and now it's hard to find an empty storefront," he said. "This is a place businesses want to be and people want to shop and I look forward to that only getting better," Bitler said.

Bitler is a lifelong resident of Canal Winchester. He started working in Bolenbaugh's as a teenager after his father, Francis, purchased the store from the original owners in the 1950s.

"I'd worked at the store through my teen years and then after college, went away for a while, following other job opportunities, before coming back and taking over the store in 1980," Bitler said. "It's been such a pleasure spending my life serving the community."

He said while he won't have the store anymore, he still intends to serve the community, but he is looking forward to spending time with family, especially his grandchildren.

"I love this community and want to continue to be a part of it," he said.

Mayor Michael Ebert said that Bitler's retirement is bittersweet for him and for the community.

"We're going to miss having him there, " Ebert said. "Bolenbaugh's has been a staple of the community forever, but we do wish him well."

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