Shirey re-opens hardware store 0521

George Shirey, owner of the True Value hardware store along Main Street in Clarion, has re-opened the store after a long COVID lay-off. While the 89-year-old Shirey is glad to be back, hours are limited.

CLARION - George Shirey leaned on his cash register at the True Value Hardware store and waved at a man passing by on Main Street. The man smiled and waved back.

After being closed for a year, the store along Main Street in Clarion he has operated for 50 years has re-opened -- although with limited hours.

"Being off was kind of nice but I missed the people," said the 89-year-old Shirey last Wednesday (May 4).

"Closing wasn't too difficult for me. People had to wear a mask but some people chose not to," Shirey explained. "It wasn't worth the risk to me at my age so I closed."

Shirey said many of his customers were "aggravated" when he closed.

"They had to do somewhere else and that was inconvenient for them," he said.

It was also difficult for Shirey who went the entire time of the shutdown without any revenue but still had to pay the bills.

"We made it through while others didn't," Shirey said. "It was hard for everyone."

Shirey said there have been a few problems with supply since he re-opened.

"A lot of our suppliers have problems meeting orders," he said. "The shut-down hurt us all."

Three of Shirey's part-time employees have returned to work although one did find employment elsewhere.

"We are fortunate they came back," Shirey said. "I have been told that other places are having trouble finding people to work."

In his 50 years in business Shirey said he has never seen anything like the pandemic.

"I don't think anyone has seen anything like this," he said. "There have been recessions before but nothing like this. The store has been pretty good to my family. I put my daughters through Penn State debt free."

The phone rang and Shirey answered. It was another old customer calling to wish him well.

Hanging up, Shirey smiled and said, "It's good to be back."