After 56 years, 3 generations, closing of the family hardware store

LAKE ZURICH, Illinois (AP) – A family business spanning three generations in Lake Zurich is going out of business after 56 years.

Casper’s True Value hardware has been the first place of employment for many high school students and a premier destination for a variety of services and products.

The building and property have been sold and a liquidation sale has begun, as owner John Casper begins his transition to retirement, the Daily Herald reports.

“We reduced inventory a bit because I saw it coming,” said Casper, who started working in the family business at age 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 made Casper think seriously to make a career out of it. The decision was made about six months ago.

“We decided as a family the opportunity was there and it wasn’t a bad idea to sell it,” said Casper, who has been a tenant rather than an owner since the sale closed on Oct. 18.

Casper has refused to identify the new owners and leaves it to them to announce their intentions. He told clients that his employees have been offered positions with the new owners.

With approximately 30,000 items available, the Clearance Sale will continue until everything is sold out. Casper predicts that could happen by Christmas and expects to be closed by the end of January.

Casper’s father, Bob, was working in human resources at a company in Libertyville when church friends 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 started it was maybe 3,000 square feet.”

After about two years, he joined the True Value Members Only Co-op.

Wanting to expand in the mid-1980s, Bob Casper bought a 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 one of several family members who have worked at the company over the years.

“I was coming here after school,” she said, while helping to prepare for the liquidation. “I’ve been working here officially since I was 15. Casper True Value is said to be the longest-serving member of the Lake Zurich Region Chamber of Commerce. John Casper said he was in elementary school when his father joined the organization.

“He realized he was an asset and part of the community,” he said.

The village and Mayor Tom Poynton are among the supporters congratulating the Casper’s.

“I’m probably out there once a week or once every 10 days for something,” Poynton said. “They will be missed.”

Services like keymaking and a propane exchange, along with an emphasis on customer service and brands like Weber barbecues and Benjamin Moore paint have kept the store relevant in the big box era.

Casper thanked customers for their many years of support and said he has no plans to leave the area. Dozens of people have praised the Casper True Value Facebook page.

“We will miss you but you deserve a nice retirement,” said a poster. “It will always be Caspers.”

About Catherine Sturm


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