WEST LAFAYETTE -- Anyone that has never been inside Brothers Hardware Store in West Lafayette is definitely missing their chance to catch a glimpse of the past.
For years, the store has been considered an icon of interest by many locals.
Patrons and visitors to the store will see an array of merchandise -- everything from old-fashioned candy to spark plugs.
The building originally constructed in 1888 by Samuel Craig housed a mercantile and hardware business for many years. In 1911, the building and business was sold to R.A. McClure and underwent extensive restructuring. The building was enlarged and the interior was updated with the latest "in fashion" décor. The fancy, pressed tin ceiling that was installed at that time is still intact.
The business eventually was sold to Pete Brothers, where it took on the name, Brothers Five & Ten Cent Store. Brothers also owned a similar business in Byesville at that same time.
In 1953, the business was sold to Walter Rice, a native of Illinois. At that time the store's main merchandise was children's clothing, candy, greeting cards and sewing notions. Current owners, Ed and Susan Chapdelaine have owned the business since June 1989, taking over the business after Susan's father (Walter Rice) passed away.
Chapdelaine says that much of the merchandise that the store has carried since the 1950s is still offered, with the exception of the children's clothing. He said some merchandise, though, is basically fading into oblivion and he is slowly phasing some items out of stock. A few of those items that seem to be going out of favor are yarn, plastic models (cars, ships, etc.) and greeting cards.
"People are busier, many working two jobs. They don't have time for hand crafting or hobbies anymore," he said.
Chapdelaine believes that the computer age has been responsible for the decline in greeting cards sales, stating, "People can now send e-mail and make cards on the computer so they don't want to spend the money on cards much anymore. What was selling 10-15 years ago, is just no longer selling," he said.
Chapdelaine said he has recently been keeping the current economical status in mind when ordering new items for the store. He is stocking more items such as garden seeds, fruit jars and canning supplies.
"I think more people are going to be growing gardens and getting back to canning, as a way to save their money," Chapdelaine said.
Besides his duties as the proprietor of the store, Chapdelaine said many of his customers know he is also a Civil War and history enthusiast.
"Many (customers) just stop by to talk about Civil War or history topics, which I don't mind, especially if it is a slow day," he said.
So if you are in need of paint, hardware supplies, canning jars or just want to catch a glimpse of the past, stop by Brothers Hardware Store and you can find what you need.