Rural Provide future unsure as constructing goes up on the market | Los Gatan

The future of long-standing Los Gatos hardware store Rural Supply is uncertain as the building is now for sale.

Co-owner Ken Nelson says after operating in the same South Santa Cruz Avenue storefront since 1967, their lease has run out and they’re not sure what the future holds.

“It’s all I know,” he said. “At this point, it’s all in the air.”

On Sept. 6, S&T Group of Marcus & Millichap sent out an email featuring the 7,151-square-foot listing, noting its position in the “Heart of Downtown Los Gatos.”

It also noted the mixed-use development proposed for the United States Post Office site across the street as another bullet point of interest.

Nelson says they’d been in talks to renew their lease for the last couple of months, but talks broke down over several of the particulars, including the price.

“We were caught flat-footed,” he said. “We’re just very challenged by this.”

And moving would be a “monumental undertaking,” according to Nelson.

He said he found out about the sale when someone sent him the listing.

Marcus & Millichap Senior VP J.J. Taughinbaugh says they’ve kept Rural Supply in the loop about the property, and notes it’s possible the business could continue in the same location.

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Rural Supply’s location at the south end of town has made it convenient for Santa Cruz Mountains residents to shop there. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

Taughinbaugh says after the property owner’s husband died, she decided she wasn’t interested in holding onto the investment any longer.

But, he stresses, the Nelson brothers could negotiate a lease with the new owner.

“There’s nothing more I would love to see than to keep the history of this town in-tact,” he said, acknowledging the business has been a big part of Los Gatos community life. “Rural Supply has been there at that location for a long period of time.”

The business is one of two Ace Hardware locations in Los Gatos.

Given that it’s located at the southern end of town, it’s catered to mountain folk over the years, in addition to other shoppers.

Zack Hart, 46, is one of them.

“You gotta service all the people that are do-it-yourselfers,” he said on a Tuesday afternoon after leaving the store. “You never know when you’re gonna need parts.”

He held a small brown bag containing washers he planned to use to install some chrome on a 1946 Lincoln Continental.

Instead of shopping at another hardware store, he came here because of the convenience, he noted.

Debbie Lockett, another Santa Cruz Mountains resident, said she’s frequented Rural Supply for three decades.

Earlier in the day, she picked up some roof repair materials to fix damage done in last winter’s storms.

“They’re really helpful,” she said. “It’ll be sad to see if it goes away, but not surprising, I guess.”

Inside Rural Supply, Nelson yells towards his brother Tim, who now co-owns the company.

“Tim, let’s put all the green totes upstairs,” he said.

There’ve been plenty of changes to the business over the years, but they managed to survive the rise of the big box retailers.

“Our emphasis has always been on basic hardware,” he said, adding they used to have a warehouse next door, before that building (the current home of Hapa’s Brewing Co.) was sold in 2012.

Nelson says he understands why the owner would want to sell, as land prices downtown have continued to increase.

“The property values have just gone up so high,” he said, but adds they’re still hopeful they can work out a deal. “We’re sure trying.”

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