BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - If people remember the name Johnson Hardware, it might because the owner always remembered theirs.
“Thank you, Joe,” Dan Rhon tells a departing customer.
Personal service has always been the name of the game for Rhon. It’s one of the reasons so many customers are stopping by this weekend to say goodbye.
“It’s been a good run, it’s been a good run here,” says the soon-to-be retiree.
After nearly 90 years in business – 70 at the corner of Portland Avenue and American Boulevard – Johnson Hardware is closing.
At 65, Hron is ready to retire. He’s sold his building to a developer.
“I never sold so many ice scrapers in April,” Hron laughs as he sells his remaining inventory at half-price.
Hron started working at Johnson Hardware in 1968. He was 15.
A year later he convinced the owner to sell him a 25 percent share, which he paid off by turning back half his paycheck.
“Six days a week, all my life,” says Hron, summing up his career.
Menards and Home Depot opened blocks away. Hron relished the challenge.
“They didn't hurt us,” he says. “They were gonna build a Lowe’s across the street about five years ago,” says Hron, raising his fists. “And I was just, c'mon.”
Pete Smith is among Hron’s longtime customers who don’t know what they’ll do without him. “When I was struggling, he carried me,” says Smith. “I paid him back. He's going to be well missed, he's like family.”
Speaking of family, Dan’s 87-year-old mother still does his books.
“He needs to go fishing,” Hope Hron says, “and take me along.”
Fishing and volunteering are both on Hron’s list.
“I’m not going to miss the business,” Hron says. “I’m going to miss the people.”