CAREY — The longstanding history of Houk Hardware has endured under new ownership.
Former owner Mike Fisher passed the torch to Carey native Mike Patterson on Jan. 20. Patterson is the second owner outside the Houk family in the last 106 years to preserve the presence of a hardware store at the corner of East Findlay and North Vance streets in downtown Carey.
Fisher took over the company, which had been run by either the bloodline or in-laws of the Houks since 1908, in June of 1998.
“My jaw still hurts from when it hit the ground,” said Patterson, whose wife Dawn owns Headlines Salon & Spa in Upper Sandusky. “I came up here wanting (Fisher) to go up to Port Clinton to look at a hardware store for sale and he made me an offer for this place. I wasn’t even thinking he was selling.”
Fisher opened a gun shop above the hardware store four years ago. He will continue operations at the 100 E. Findlay St. location until he finds a new storefront for the gun company. He intends to stay in Carey or move a short 10 miles south to Upper Sandusky.
“I am pretty happy (Patterson) is going to keep it Houk Hardware and continue that,” Fisher said. “I think that Mike will do a fantastic job.”
Fisher’s brother-in-law, John Roberts, has been retained as store manager. One position was eliminated along with the picture framing department, the space of which Patterson will use to more clearly departmentalize the store, he said.
“We’re going to update our inventory, spruce the place up a little bit, but other than that, it’s going to be business as normal — taking care of customers with a good hometown attitude and friendliness,” Patterson said.
The updating process already has begun with the addition of feed from Kalmbach Feeds last week. Roberts, who has managed the store since September 2001, had been considering vending the locally-stationed Kalmbach Feeds’ products for weeks, but waited until the ownership transition ended, Patterson said.
“Adding feed from a local company was a no-brainer,” Patterson said.
Patterson said he has always been a hardware junkie, “Mr. Do-it-yourself guy.” He worked for Tower Automotive in Upper Sandusky for 23 years and another seven as the maintenance director of Primrose Retirement Community in Findlay when Tower Automotive closed. He handled the accounting at Headlines when it first opened.
Patterson is a graduate of Carey High School and he and Dawn have sent their children through the Carey Exempted Village School District.
He will sell used golf carts out of the upstairs space when Fisher departs and is mulling separate additions to incorporate at that time, he said.
“I’ve dabbled in golf carts for a few years now,” said Patterson, adding he will buy and vamp them up himself for re-sale. “In Carey, they’re street legal.”
Fisher, who according to an article at the time said he moved to Carey after taking over Houk Hardware because he wanted to walk to work, looks forward to seeing the same faces after he moves.
“I appreciate all of the business I’ve gotten over the last 15-plus years and look forward to serving people through our gun shop for years to come,” he said.
By NICK MARLOW