For decades, anyone who stepped through the door at Seven Corners Hardware in downtown St. Paul was sure to find whatever they were looking for.
Take hammers, for example.
"We have brick and block and masonry hammers, all the ball peens and cross peens and mauls, split head hammers, wood mallets, roofer's hammers, drywall hammers," General Manager Dave Ruedy said. "And claw hammers."
But after 80 years, the St. Paul landmark at 216 W. 7th Street is closing its doors. Seven Corners owner Bill Walsh has decided to close the store and its catalog business and sell off its building, just a block from the Xcel Energy Center.
• PHOTOS: A St. Paul landmark closes
"Basically...I live in California with my family and I have a lot of business interests out there in California and Nevada," he said. "Commuting back and forth out here just got to be a little much."
Walsh said his son, a student at Notre Dame, also isn't interested in making it a fourth-generation family business.
As a result, the store Walsh's grandfather started in 1933 and his father expanded will fade into the city's memory. Gone also will be its more than 50,000 items in stock, which range from tiny screws to table-saw parts to a five-foot-long pipe wrench.
"We've held our own against the internet and catalog sales and so forth," Walsh said. "We built the business on our employees knowing their product line and having unique items."
The store's location is a prime piece of real estate amid a bustling row of restaurants and bars that cater to people going to shows and games at the arena. Walsh said he has a deal with a real estate developer, but has a confidentiality agreement through the end of this month and can't talk about the plans.
City officials in St. Paul say they've already been approached about building a hotel on the site, but can't say more than that.
As news of the store's closing spread, customers were already mourning the change as they stopped by to pick up the odd and ends they need.
Among them was Anthony Kling, who put in a special order for 100 pairs of tiny brass hinges for a new restaurant menu he was designing. He was also eyeing racks of parts towering over him.
"Pretty sad that this place is going," Kling said. "There's not a lot of places like this where people who actually make things can get the stuff that they need to make stuff and to be able to make those visual connections with things you're working on."
Some people came in and left with something they hadn't planned on. That's what would happen to Paul Cole, a volunteer from the nearby Science Museum of Minnesota, when he'd step inside Seven Corners.
"I just love coming in here," Cole said. "I didn't come in here planning to buy a screw gun and an impact tool today, but here I am, $300 later, out of here. That's just the way this place works."
Manager Pat Shimota remembers one Saturday morning the phone rang: A guy had jacked up a house to move it and it was slipping off the cribbing. He wanted to know if Seven Corners had something to stop it.
"Your advice is to get out of the way," Shimota said.
But even though they didn't have something on hand, Shimota said he's flattered that someone called to ask.
He's also proud of the store's depth of plumbing, electrical, garden and other products.
"People always say if you don't find it here, you probably don't need it," Shimota said.
But that won't be true anymore. A liquidation started today. It's expected to run about 16 weeks, and then Seven Corners will become a building project in its own right.