The Modesto True Value Hardware is closing after more than 36 years of helping area residents fix up their homes.
Last month the store at 1433 Coffee Road began a going- out-of-business sale. Signs reading "Everything Must Go" and "50% Off" now hang on the store's awnings.
The parking lot was full Wednesday morning as regular shoppers and bargain hunters pored over the store's rapidly emptying shelves.
A store employee said the owners would not comment on the closure. About four employees remain at the business.
Longtime customer Ken Cheeseman, who started shop- ping there in 1978, said neighborhood hardware stores such as True Value can't be replaced.
"To me you can't beat an old-time hardware store," said Cheeseman, 61, who dropped in with his 4-year-old grandson Christopher. "The people know where things are, what tools to use. You don't ever walk out of the store and find out later you don't have what you need to finish your project."
The Modesto True Value was opened Dec. 7, 1973, by brothers Arnold and Ernie Setliff. The store continued the partnership the siblings started in 1950 with Setliff Bros. in Riverbank.
The Setliff family owned the store until 2003, when Ernie Setliff died. The partnership's various assets were split between the brother's two sides of the family.
In 2008, Ernie Setliff's wife, Gladys, and her side of the family took over the Modesto True Value and Arnold Setliff and his family retained the Oakdale Ace Hardware.
Ron Setliff, Gladys' son, was contacted by The Bee but declined to comment. Phone calls to other Setliff family members were not returned.
Longtime shopper Rose Azevedo, 81, stopped by to look at paint. She said she will miss the store's convenience.
"I'm in and out, and I don't have to search around," she said. "I just like the small stores."
The store made a big deal about its grand opening back in February 1974, complete with hot air balloon rides. More than 750 people took rides that ran day-and-night throughout the opening weekend festivities.
Neighborhood hardware stores have struggled to compete with big-box home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowes. In 2000, an Orchard Supply Hardware opened less than a mile and a half away on Oakdale Road.
Oakdale resident Eric Sorensen, 45, said he understands all too well what the Modesto True Value owners are going through. His family owned the Riverbank True Value for 30 years before it closed three years ago.
"People will be sorry for not sticking by (the store) when it's gone, that's for sure," he said. "You can't find help at the Home Depot."
A handwritten sign outside the store said it will be open starting 8 a.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays and closed Sundays and Mondays.
For more call Modesto True Value at 521-5331.
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2284.