Grabill Hardware is celebrating the official transition of ownership from Claude Schrock to his son, Leonard (Len) Schrock, and business partner James (Jim) Gerig. Founded in 1930 by Abner Gerig, the business is also recognizing its belated 90th anniversary.
Claude Schrock became a co-owner of Grabill Hardware in 1972. The ownership team was later enhanced by the addition of Jim Gerig, who started working in the store in 1974 when he was still in high school. Len started working at the store in 1987 after Abner retired and joined the ownership team in 2001. The store thrived under the trio’s leadership, and they opened their second location, Woodburn Do it Best Hardware, in 2010. Now, Claude is transferring the last of his ownership to his trusted business partners.
“I am confident the stores are in good hands with Len and Jim,” Claude says. “As I look back over my time in Grabill, I am so thankful for the support of this community, especially to the many volunteers who helped us recover from our devastating fire. We would not have made it all these years without the many loyal customers I am pleased to call my friends.”
He also praised his customers for their loyalty throughout the pandemic.
“COVID caused us to idle our big plans for our 90th anniversary in 2020,” Claude says. “But I’m happy to say it’s a nearly daily celebration to see the continued support of our valued customers.”
The pandemic is not the only challenge the business has faced. On November 22, 1976, the store was completely destroyed by fire. Abner, Claude and the store’s employees kept the hardware business going, first in a corner of the local hatchery, then through the purchase of the town’s lumberyard, which had gone out of business the previous year. The store was rebuilt on the same location in downtown Grabill and reopened in October 1977.
Today, Grabill and Woodburn Hardware stock a wide variety of tools, builders hardware, electrical supplies, plumbing and heating supplies, lawn and garden supplies, sporting goods, housewares and paint and sundries. Because both stores are located in old order Amish communities, they also carry a unique selection of hard-to-find items, including oil lamp supplies, lantern parts, cast iron cookware, freeze dryers, pressure canner seals and parts, meat grinders and parts, crocks, wooden clothes drying racks and more.