MARYSVILLE — In 1923, former Michigan blacksmith Milford Carr opened Carr’s Hardware on Third Street.
In 1948, Carr’s future daughter-in-law, then 16-year-old Darlene Campbell, started working at the store.
In 1997, Carr’s stepson, Bruce Scott, died, leaving Darlene Scott and her daughter, Gail Scott Libbing, to run the store.
“Everyone still thinks of it as Carr’s Hardware, but Darlene and Gail really kept it going well for a long time,” said Maurice Libbing, Gail’s husband.
Gail estimated she’s worked at the store for at least 40 of the 58 years she’s been alive, and Darlene celebrated her 84th birthday still manning the antique cash register.
With that many years of maintaining the family legacy, it’s not hard to understand why Darlene said she’s closing Carr’s Hardware because, “it’s the right time for the family.”
Darlene saw the job of bookkeeping for the store as a welcome change of pace from working on her family’s farm, but even back then, she had ambitions of greeting the customers.
“Back then, they didn’t let girls work on the pipe-fitting machine,” Gail said. “Even now, she makes sure other people are good and ready before she lets them handle it.”
Although Darlene looks forward to traveling, with visits already planned to see her daughter in Micronesia and her son’s family in Alaska, she admitted that she’ll miss the social scene of the store that’s been her home for so long.
“This area has been my life,” Darlene said. “In the old days, there was us, Hilton’s Pharmacy and Oosterwyk’s Dutch Bakery.”
Hilton Pharmacy owner Mary Kirkland noted how much she’ll miss having Carr’s Hardware as “good neighbors, always at the ready to help, no matter what the project or dilemma, whether it be hardware, community support or just a listening ear. Their legacy of real customer service and genuine care for our community leaves a lasting mark on our city.”
Darlene still remembers when 10th Street was the northernmost border of Marysville, and expressed pride in how Third Street has remained a historically significant center of activity, even as its downtown has expanded by leaps and bounds.To that end, she hopes to lease her old storefront to a new business that will complement the other merchants on Third Street.
“They’ve been like family to us, so of course we want to see them continue to succeed,” Darlene said. “We certainly don’t want this place to become just an empty building.”