What happened to Bob's Hardware? It closed. A Lowe's and a Home Depot opened not far away, and little by little, Bob had to struggle to advertise his store, focusing mainly on paying his employees and paying taxes. Then he had to lay off a few stock clerks. When they put meters in front of Bob's store, his customers either went to suburban stores where they could park or just ordered tools on-line. Some of those hard-to-find items you can even buy on-line. For that matter, you can empty your own basement, sell all kinds of stuff you never use and make money on E-bay.
Bob's celebrated his fiftieth anniversary with an enormous "customer appreciation" sale. Some customers who remembered Bob's dad came by to congratulate him. But a lot of the old-timers had either moved away, or were no longer buying snow shovels and brooms and gardening tools. People would come in and buy a small item or two, but the big ticket items were purchased from Home Depot. Not only were their prices cheaper, but they now manufactured many of their own products, and these were cheaper still. After all, who really can afford to pay full price? Bob finally had to let his last salesperson go, and cut down store hours. He struggled along, not wanting to see the demise of the long-respected family business...but when the shoe store next door closed and was walled up for construction, and his taxes went up, and his daughter and her husband moved to Italy, and it seemed as if he had only one or two sales per day, he made the inevitable decision to close. Bob's Hardware...proud occupant of Main Street for 51 years. The bars are permanently down, and who knows when or if they'll ever go up again.