September 8, 2023 at 2:09 p.m.
Stacy store changes hands after 52 years
Anyone with an imagination would be forgiven for describing the interior of Stacy Do It Best Hardware Store as giving off a church vibe; with its hypnotically long center aisle leading past a symmetrical, but mind-boggling, display of merchandize. A small office space, off to your left, is where timecards were tabulated, orders finalized and the day’s deposits created. So efficiently-sized it requires a visitor to turn sideways to seat themself at the one desk. Dark plywood-covered walls are the backdrop for multiple plaques recognizing the store’s sales records for Stihl, Snapper, Polaris, Husqvarna and other brands. And the obligatory trophy walleye mount guards the door.
At the end of the central walkway is what could be the church sanctuary area, the service desk. Need a plow mount for your four-wheeler— order it here. Need a grill. Assembled. Come here. Riding mower, snowmobile on the fritz? Come here.
What you see as a customer is about half of what Stacy Hardware exists on, as there’s a similar-sized backstage to complement the public face of this terrific ode to Americana.
Store Manager Doug Miller is equally as epic as the 52-year old one-ownerbusiness is. A welder, who started “hanging around the store at 15,” he recalls his first workday involved putting bicycles together, and then he moved up to right hand man.
Donna said the final chapter of their business life was made bearable because of the employees. There have been health issues and big decisions to handle and “The last year and half we couldn’t have done it without the people who work here,” Donna stressed.
Every small town should have a hardware store, explains co-owners Jim and Donna Keacher. So, upon deciding to sell, they set their sights on finding just the right individual to takeover their lifetime venture. The “perfect fit” came along in Nick Simpson.
Everybody is welcome to get to know Nick when he succeeds the Keachers, officially, at the Open House Farewell September 9, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the store (6125 Stacy Trail).
Jim takes the only other chair in the office; while Donna keeps an eye on the floor, chatting with people who come in. As the reporter scribbles in a notebook Donna periodically hands over Polaroid photos, snatched off the store bulletin board, visual proof of various milestones. A faded image shows a man named Jerry Schroeder astride the first ATV the store sold over 30 years ago. (BTW, Jerry you are expected at the open house.)
Jim explains that the store moves A LOT of motorsports related goods. Well before the Internet Stacy Hardware had customers ordering from Canada to New Mexico. Stacy Hardware Store is ‘go-to’ for any piece of equipment and if the store can’t get hold of what you need, it probably can repair the problem or fashion something similar.
Jim credits his experience in the Air Force for his mechanical passion/skill.
He was working at an inn at Mondovi, Wisconsin providing maintenance, part time, while still on a nearby military base, when he met Donna who would soon go into teaching.
They wed and eventually returned to this area, where Jim had grown up in Stacy. (The house next door to the store.)
Donna landed a teaching job in Forest Lake for eight or 10 years, then opened a pre-school in Wyoming. Jim was with the “other” hardware store in Stacy “Dahl’s.”
He put up the current hardware building in 1971, on what was an empty lot next to his childhood home.
The next 52 years, as they say, is history. The Keachers originally lived in an apartment near the store and along came Mike and LeAnne. Mike is happily employed with Hennepin County on a survey-pre con team and LeAnne is a teacher, so the store went on the market,
With the change in ownership surprisingly few obvious changes are planned. Employees stay, the major brand names remain. Polaris logos splashed all over the store remain. Jim expects the future to bring an expansion to the hardware operation to accomodate the growth in Polaris output.
And they’ve been promised that the prize walleye has a forever home.