Consequently, the hardware store that’s been around as long as New Town itself will be closing this summer. The Horobs expect the last day for New Town True Value will be sometime in July. They are liquidating and will close once inventory is largely gone.
The Horobs had put the store up for sale last December. They decided to close when they weren’t able to find a buyer. They began their inventory reduction in April.
“I really hated to see this store close. It’s been a good store in New Town. But I just decided after 43 years, now is a good time,” Ardell Horob said. “I enjoyed the store. I am going to miss it.”
The roots of the True Value store go back to 1945, when Ardell’s parents, Ed and Florence Horob, opened a Coast to Coast store in Ryder. They had operated a theater in Drake before moving to Ryder in 1938. They started a theater there that offered shows, dances, roller skating and eventually a cafe.
Ardell Horob said by the 1950s, Ryder was declining in size. Meanwhile. there appeared to be opportunities in New Town, which the Corps of Engineers was building to replace towns inundated by the waters of the Garrison Dam. His parents moved the Coast to Coast to New Town in 1953 when Ardell was about 16 years old.
Horob helped out at the store before going off to what now is North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton. He was working at Chateau Lanes in Minot in 1965 when his father died. He and Charlene moved back to New Town to buy the store.
“I wasn’t very happy the first few years,” said Charlene Horob, who had been reluctant to leave Minot. A native of White Earth, she had enjoyed her job at Saunder’s Drug and life in a bigger city.
However, New Town gradually won her over.
“It all evolved. Now I can’t think of living anywhere else,” she said.
For Ardell Horob, the move was an unexpected change of plans.
“I didn’t even give that much thought about getting into the hardware business, but the opportunity came so I figured I might as well take a chance,” he said. “Everything came out very well.”
Ardell Horob, who had trained in auto mechanics, put his mechanical ingenuity to use. To serve his customers, he installed water heaters, put up television antennas, repaired winows and screens and became the town’s local fix-it guy.
Charlene Horob said her husband earned a reputation as someone who could fix anything, and even she has been amazed at times at what he’s been able to repair. She credits his success to his dogged determination to not let a repair job get the best of him.
“One of the things that sticks out in my mind is when the store went to computers. Ardell threw up his hands. He fought that,” she said. Once he realized the fight was futile, he turned his determination toward figuring out the machines.
“Now he’s not a computer genius but he does really well with it,” his wife said.
The Horobs have seen many other changes in the store over the years. After their son, Brian, joined the business in 1991, they bought the former town newspaper building and opened a furniture and floor covering store. That portion of the business operated until this past March.
In 1998, Coast to Coast and True Value merged. The New Town hardware store has been a True Value store since.
The Horobs believed in keeping up with changes and staying diversified to cater to the varied needs of a customer base that includes local residents and summer lake visitors. The store carried merchandise from houseware to sporting goods.
“We have been fortunate to really have some good employees,” Ardell Horob said in reflecting on his years in the business.
Now that the days of opening the store at 7:30 a.m. and closing at 6 p.m. are coming to an end, the Horobs say they’ll miss seeing the customers but they look forward to retirement.
The Horobs will stay in New Town. They plan to spend more time in the winter where the weather is warmer, but as an avid fisherman and hunter, Ardell Horob wouldn’t think of moving.
“It’s too good an area,” he said.
Ardell Horob and his wife, Charlene, are shown at their New Town True Value store in July 2003, the year the store celebrated its 50th anniversary.