Helsel Hardware closes
A longtime family-owned local business has closed its doors.
Helsel Hardware, of 225 W. Plank Road, closed its doors on Thursday.
The closing came as a result of Helsel selling its Polaris dealership to Five Star Powersports of Duncansville, said owner Roy “Buck” Leister Jr., the grandson of J.W. “Buck” Helsel, who founded the business in 1950.
Leister said it was the right time to sell the franchise and close the business, at which he had worked since 1974.
“Polaris was a big part of the business. We had been a Polaris dealer for 43 years, selling snowmobiles, four wheelers and side-by-sides,” Leister said. “I didn’t think there was enough left to continue the business. Selling now was the right time. I don’t have any kids to pass the business down to. I will be 62 in March.”
Joe Hurd, president and CEO of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce, called Helsel Hardware a pillar of the community.
“The Helsel and Leister families embraced the concept of the traditional hardware store, and they made it work for many years. It is sad that they’re closing. A piece of Blair County history goes by the wayside,” Hurd said.
Leister said Helsel Hardware was able to compete with the bigger stores because of its diversity.
“We could always find a niche. At one time we sold cell phones, another time lawn and garden equipment, then the gun business. We always could find something to carry us through,” Leister said. “We were best known for having things you
couldn’t find anywhere else. There was a saying ‘if you can’t find it, call Helsel.'”
Helsel Hardware was
also known for some-
thing unique that was an
attraction in itself.
Along the walls and on the shelves were big-game trophies, including deer, elk and moose, highlighted by a grizzly bear that stood majestically overlooking the far corner of the store where hunting rifles and ammunition were sold.
Leister said some people would come in just to see the animals.
They came courtesy of Leister’s father, Roy Sr. He entered the business in
1964, and he sold it to his son in 1997. Roy Sr. died in 2013.
Roy Jr. hopes to find a buyer for the building. He also said he may look for a smaller facility to continue selling guns and ammunition.