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For 25 years, Mike Caswell has been going to work at Orchard Supply Hardware – the past 12 as the store manager in Napa.

However, come November, that’s all going to change.

In August, parent company, Lowe’s, announced that after 87 years, the Orchard Supply Hardware chain will close all of its 99 home improvement stores in the coming months. The move comes five years after Lowe’s bought most Orchard Supply stores out of bankruptcy following an ill-fated spin-off from former owner Sears Holdings Corp.

“It’s been a very nice run,” Caswell said. Unfortunately, “It’s the end of an era.”

While the word of the closing has spread amidst locals, that doesn’t mean that OSH shoppers approve of the idea.

“I think it’s horrible,” said Tracy Griffin of Napa. OSH employees are “helpful in a special way,” she said.

“It’s sad,” said Ernie Weir of Napa, noting that change is always difficult. “My heart goes out to the employees.” Hopefully another store – perhaps a Lowe’s – will move into the OSH space, he said.

“I am so bummed” that the store is closing, said Robert Jordan of Napa. Even though OSH was part of a chain, “It’s never felt like a chain,” he said.

Mike Taylor of Napa said he always liked shopping at OSH for the customer service and because Bel Aire Plaza location was close to his house.

Home Depot may be another choice, but that’s across town. Plus, “you can’t get any help” at that store, Taylor said.

Caswell said that when he heard the store was closing, “I was shocked.”

“It’s sad” for both customers and for the employees, said the store manager.

“Orchard Supply has always been a great place to work,” said Caswell. “Morale was good and people really care about this business.”

As for shoppers, “Most people don’t see us as a chain,” he said. “Orchard Supply was a neighborhood store” with a neighborhood feel.

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Caswell said that at one time the Napa OSH, which opened in the late 1980s, had as many as 90 employees. Some of those staffers have decades of tenure with OSH.

Over the years, that number dropped to about 50 but the Napa OSH has always been busy, he said, even during the Great Recession.

Orchard Supply Hardware district manager Matt Holden has been with OSH for 4 1/2 years. “The last four years have been awesome,” he said.

For Holden, OSH was all about growth and change. Just two years ago, the Napa store was remodeled, he noted. Instead of a ribbon cutting, the store used a chainsaw to cut a wooden board.

Holden said the Napa OSH could close as soon as Nov. 2.

“It depends on how the product and shelving sells,” he said. Everything in the store is for sale, he noted, including signs, shelving and other fixtures. The current discount ranges from 15 to 50 percent. He doesn’t know when the next markdown will occur.

Caswell, who lives in Napa, said after the store closes he plans to take some time off, eventually retire and “maybe play a little more golf.”

If he could take one item as a keepsake of his years with OSH, Caswell said he might take one of the two carved wooden beaver statues. The “busy beaver” used to be the store mascot. One beaver statue at the Napa store was carved from a tree cut down at the site.

“That might look good somewhere in my house,” Caswell said.

When asked how the two men would feel on the last day at the Napa OSH, Holden said “we try not to think about that.”

“It’s going to be hard to say goodbye,” said Caswell.

Yes, OSH is a corporation but it never felt like that, he said. “It is a family.”

“The hard part will be not seeing your family.”

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Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.