Longtime Vt. business Parker & Stearns set to close

JOHNSON, Vt. (WCAX) After more than 100 years serving the community, a family-owned lumber and building supply store is closing its two locations. But Parker & Stearns could still be saved if a buyer comes forward.

Longtime customers say the closure would be a big loss to the community.

"I lived it, worked it, just ate it and slept it, and thought it all the time. Enough is enough," Chandler Parker said.

Parker has run Parker & Stearns in Johnson for the past 50 years. The business has been in his family for five generations, starting out as a sawmill in 1890 and evolving into a retail store in the 1950s.

But Parker is ready to retire.

"It was a hard decision for me, of course, to decide it had to be like this," he said.

His daughters have no interest in taking over the business, so Parker hopes someone will step up and run the stores in Stowe and Johnson. He says Parker & Stearns is financially stable.

"It was my decision to close this place. It wasn't done because I had to. It was because I just decided it was time to," he explained.

Customers like Andre de Saint Phalle have been shopping at the store for decades.

"When you come down here, the people are very personable, very friendly, very helpful. You know, the buildings have been here for over 100 years. You just feel like you're where the wood was milled," de Saint Phalle said.

Like his customers, Parker will be sad to see the store go, but he's looking forward to figuring out what's next.

"Honestly, I don't know at this stage what I'm going to do," he said. "I really and truly don't. I don't."

The stores in Johnson and Stowe close May 31.

If no one comes forward to buy the stores as-is, the merchandise will be sold at auction in June. Then the property will be up for sale.