It’s been nearly 32 1/2 years since Ray Oden opened Oden’s Hardware in the 200 block of N. Main St. in Vandalia.
After serving area customers for more than three decades, Oden is closing the doors to his business by the end of 2016 as he has announced his plans to retire.
“It’s time to go do what I want to do,” he said. “…And I’m behind on my fishing.”
Oden purchased the hardware store from Charlie Kerr, who took over ownership in 1964 and operated Kerr’s Hardware for 20 years. Kerr previously worked for Wallace Hardware, a store at the same location from 1932-1964.
The building was once the home to a harness and buggy shop that was built in 1892.
Oden originally took over the business after working eight years for White Lumber.
Through the years, Ray Oden and his wife Janet have seen many generations come through the doors.
“The other day a guy came in and said he came in here with his dad when Wallace ran it,” Ray Oden noted. “He said his grandpa use to come in with his dad and now his grandkids and their kids come in. You’ve got four generations I’ve dealt with since being here.”
Ray Oden said he’ll miss the many customers who still “loaf” at the hardware store.
“I’m going to miss some of that,” he said. “…I’ll miss a lot of good friends and good customers…Mainly helping people, solve their problems, that’s the thing I enjoyed…A lot of people who came in got a problem and were all frustrated. If there was nobody here, I would say I can take care of that pretty quick.”
Along with the supplies sold in the store, some of Oden’s services that will sorely be missed will be his sheet metal and duct work, cutting of thread pipe, and sewing machine repair.
Currently, Oden’s Hardware has a retirement sale. It features 30% off plumbing and electrical supplies, 20% off boots and clothing, and 10% off ammo.