LAKE ZURICH — A family business that spans three generations in Lake Zurich is ending its run after 56 years.
Casper’s True Value Hardware has been the place of first jobs for scores of high schoolers and a go-to destination for a variety of services and products.
The building and property have been sold, and a liquidation sale has started, as proprietor John Casper begins his transition to retirement, the Daily Herald reports.
“We’ve dwindled the inventory down a bit because I’ve seen this coming,” said Casper, who began working in the family business when he was 12 and returned after studying business at the University of Illinois.
There had been periodic interest in the building with the familiar Alpine motif that sits on two acres off Old Rand at Route 22. But it was a visit about a year ago that got Casper thinking seriously about calling it a career. The decision was made about six months ago.
“We decided as a family the opportunity was there and it was not a bad idea to sell it,” said Casper, who has been a tenant rather than owner since the sale closed Oct. 18.
Casper declined to identify the new owners and is leaving it to them to announce their intentions. He told customers that his employees have been offered positions with the new owners.
With about 30,000 available items, the liquidation sale will continue until everything is sold. Casper anticipates that could happen by Christmas and expects to be closed by the end of January.
Casper’s dad, Bob, was working in human resources at a Libertyville company when friends from church told him they were selling their small business on Old Rand Road and Main Street in Lake Zurich.
“He always wanted to have a hardware store and they told him about it,” Casper said. “When dad first started out, it was maybe 3,000 square feet.”
After about two years, he joined the True Value member-only cooperative.
Wanting to expand in the mid-1980s, Bob Casper bought property about a block south of the first location and had a 15,600-square-foot building constructed.
“Today is our 35th anniversary here,” said John’s daughter, Amy, who was among several family members who have worked in the business through the years.
“I used to come here after school,” she said, while helping prepare for the liquidation. “I’ve been working here officially since I was 15.” Casper True Value is said to be the longest-standing member of the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce. John Casper said he was in grade school when his father joined the organization.
“He realized that as being an asset and part of the community,” he said.
The village and Mayor Tom Poynton are among the well wishers offering congratulations to the Caspers.
“I’m probably in there once a week or once every 10 days for something,” Poynton said. “They’ll be missed.”
Services like key making and a propane exchange, as well as a focus on customer service and brands like Weber grills and Benjamin Moore paint kept the store relevant in the big-box era.
Casper thanked customers for many years of support and said he has no plans to leave the area. Dozens offered congratulations on the Casper True Value Facebook page.
“You will be missed but you deserve a nice retirement,” said one poster. “It will always be Caspers.”