Bayers Hardware, after 89 years in Linden Hills, is driven out of business

Bayers, "with a great deal of sadness," announced his store will be closing.
Bayers, "with a great deal of sadness," announced his store will be closing.

Last year, Linden Hills fixture Bayers Hardware went to war with its new neighbor and competitor, Settergren's Ace Hardware. Yesterday, owner Bob Bayers conceded defeat and announced that after 89 years in business at 4312 Upton Avenue South, his business will close September 1.

Bayers, 60, has been feeling bitter ever since Mark Settergren, co-owner of two southwest Minneapolis hardware stores in addition to his new Linden Hills location, first announced he planned to open up shop in the old Linden Hills Co-op building last summer. That bitterness remains apparent in the statement Bayers released announcing his store's closing.

Here's part of Bayers' statement:

Dear friends of Bob Bayers and Bayers Hardware.

It is with a great deal of sadness that I announce to you that I am retiring and will be closing my store on September 1st. My family has been in the hardware business in the same location for 89 years. Several things have contributed to this decision; a sluggish economy, poor winter sales last season in the lawn and garden department (with snow that never showed up), inability to expand in a 100 year old building that we occupy, and finally competition from a new ACE store that opened last October in the old Linden Hills Co-op building adjacent to our property...

This Thursday July 26th, we will begin a liquidation sale...

We will also be having a retirement party on August 11th from 10-2pm with cake, coffee and cold drinks. We will showcase many hardware artifacts that have been collected over the years, and would love to reminisce about the experiences you have had shopping at Bayers Hardware. There will also be drawings for many door prizes.

I've spent 45 years in this store and will miss the daily interactions and opportunities to serve my customers needs. Your loyalty over the years has been greatly appreciated.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

An article in the August issue of Twin Cities Business (not yet available online) details the feud that developed between former friends Bayers and Settergren. Asked about his reaction to the news of Settergren opening next door, Bayers says, "Shock! Never in a million years would I have thought they would have done what they did."

But, as the article details, not everyone in the neighborhood sympathizes with Bayers' plight.

Becky Hanson, president of the Linden Hills Business Association, said, "This is a capitalist society, so we use our dollars to vote and we go to the place that we feel benefits ourselves. But as far as two businesses going side by side that are competitors, I don't think that is unusual in this marketplace."

"I assume that Mark was doing for his business what he felt was necessary for his business. Otherwise, why would he pay that much money for a building?"

Shortly after Settergren purchased the old Co-op building, he and Bayers had discussions about possibly merging operations by having Bayers go to work for Settergren. But those talks broke down, and the two businesses began competing last fall.

Bayers told TCB that the merger talks left him feeling "insulted... They wanted to give me a pittance."

"[Settergren] is taking from me," Bayers added. "They are trying to put me out of business."

But Mark Settergren told TCB that he isn't losing sleep over Bayers' predicament.

"We tried to make that right. We offered a buyout," Settergren said. "Didn't go too well; he wanted us to hire him, and we just didn't have a spot for him."

"We offered to buy out merchandise, pay his rent for two months, hire his two employees, let him clean it out, and try to do something else with the building. That's what our goal was," Settergren added.

"Morally we feel comfortable with our decision. We were family friends for years."

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