A local business that has been around for over 50 years will be closing its doors for good within the first few weeks of January.
A local business that has been around for over 50 years will be closing its doors for good within the first few weeks of January. Weniger's Variety Store, located on Main Street next to The Hotel Wayne, a business which has been around since 1957, will be closing next month. Don Weniger Sr. bought the building from Bob and Charlie Cade in 1957 and started his own store. “After owning it for a year or so, my uncle Bud worked with my dad and the two of them ran the business until my uncle passed in 1970,” said Don Weniger Jr., current owner of the business. He bought the business from his dad in 1981 and has been running it ever since. “My dad helped me for the next 10 years until he passed away in 1993,” Weniger said. “He was a good retailer and built it up from nothing, to one of the busiest places in town in the 60s and 70s. I'm not sure how he did it.” The building has been around since the 1800s and has been a number of different businesses, including a tavern, a boarding house and even a barbershop. “It's been a lot of things in the course of history,” he said. Weniger's Variety Store is the last Weniger store on Main Street. His uncle owned an electronics store. There was also a tavern and a small grocery store. Weniger said about “a dozen” family members helped out at the store over the years, including his sister and cousin. He added it's been a “family store ever since.” Weniger started helping out at the store on Sundays when he was 12. When he was 14, he helped out a little more after school. “The years go by and things change,” he said. “The town changes. The town was basically mom and pop stores. There weren't any convenience stores. There weren't any Walmarts or Kmarts.” He added that now there's a lot of competition and said “people taste change” and like to go with it. Over the past few years, Weniger has downsized and sells “what I know I can sell.” He said a lot of people still come in the store, but the majority of things that are bought bring a small profit. “It'll be a big change,” Weniger said about closing the business. “I could see it was coming and kept it going as long as I could, but you can only do that for so long.” Weniger said he doesn't want to sell the building yet. Although he's not at the retirement age, he said he “may sell” it when he is. “Things don't always work out the way you plan them,” Weniger stated. “You never know what will happen.” For now, he is going to take some time to do things he wants. “It's time for a change,” he said. “It'll be really weird though. This is where I meet everyone. You get attached to them and some even become your best friends.” Weniger said the candy case is probably one of the biggest things people talked about. “When the Stourbridge School was open there would be a lot of kids between 7 a.m. and when school started,” he said. “Then after school there'd be another big group of them.” He added that one thing his dad did was give a popsicle to kids who got an A on their report cards and sometimes gave one to those who had a good report card overall. “On Sunday mornings, my dad would pass out the papers and it would be like a gossip center,” Weniger said of one of his favorite times in the store. “People would find out what was going on and pass it along. I always got a kick out of that.” He said he has “no sorrow” about closing the store. “You do what you can and you go on from there,” Weniger stated. “I will miss some of it. There are good and bad things with everything. My dad loved it so much and I had a feeling I should keep it going as long as I could.” He added people come in and say they “hate to see it go.” “The past is in the past but you have to remember to live for the present and future,” Weniger said. “That's what we're here for. I really enjoyed it and I met a lot of great people.” He wishes to thank Marisa Hiller, who worked in the store with him. “If it wasn't for her it wouldn't have been able to stay in business,” he said. “I appreciate her help. She was also great with the customers.” Weniger's Variety Store will be closing within the first or second week of January. He said he will gradually keep downsizing until the last day. “I hope people remember the store in a positive way,” Weniger said. Looking back “It was a good store,” said Thane Peterson, a resident from Aldenville who was a regular customer at the store. “It will be sorely missed.”