Vinyard's swan song: Final auction begins today

Saturday, August 13, 2011
Bob Vinyard takes a moment, leans against an old desk in the upstairs office of his store, Vinyard Farm and Home Supply, and reminisces about his 32 years in business. Beginning today, the remaining inventory of the iconic store will be sold at auction.

Nevada, Mo. -- In an auction that is expected to last three days, the last of the inventory from the Vinyard Farm and Home Supply will go on the auction block at 1004 East Austin Blvd., beginning at 10 a.m., today. The auction of the large inventory will resume on Sunday at 1 p.m., and if necessary, will pick up again at 10 a.m., Monday.

The auction marks the end of a business that has been in Nevada for almost 50 years. Started by William Marlin Vinyard in 1962, Vinyard's first called 209 Main St. home, but it wasn't too long before the business moved to the Moore building just off the Nevada Square. In 1970 the company built the building that they have been ever since.

It was a good move. In a taped interview done for the Vernon County Historical Society in February 2003, Bob Vinyard said the difference in insurance premiums paid for the new location. The younger Vinyard took over the business 32 years ago, after the sudden death of his father. Prior to that, Bob Vinyard worked for the Gas Service Co. in Kansas City. Mo.

He and his wife Margaret lived in the south Kansas City area and raised their two children Phillip and Dyanne in that area. He and his father had discussed his moving into the business, but it still came about suddenly.

Now 76 and a grandfather, Vinyard says he is getting out of the business because of his age and the economy. "Sometimes I wish I had done it 10 years ago," he said.

"I do regret having to lay off all of the employees," he said, "that's 13 families affected; I've never done that." The sentiment is genuine and it is easy to believe when his employees speak about him.

Mark Miller worked at Vinyard's for 22 years and retired from there in 2007 as store manager. "I loved it," Miller said, "Bob Vinyard was a great man to work for. He took good care of his employees; he always did what he said he would." And that included giving each employee who had been on the job a year or more a half a beef every year. That was something his father started and Vinyard said he thought it was important to keep that going.

Vinyard has seen a couple of hundred employees come and go. He has seen product lines change. And the hours of the store have changed over the years, but Vinyard has had the same philosophy for all that time.

"I'd like to say I treated everybody fair; I gave everybody the same price. I tried to treat them as fairly as I can, that's always been my goal," he said.

For many years Vinyard's was the "go-to" place. The store's inventory has varied over the years, but a customer could find just about anything needed around the farm or in the home in that store. Whether a quarter of a mile of water line, a set screw for the pulley on a baler or a light fixture for the kid's bedroom was needed, Vinyard's had it in an inventory that contained, according to Vinyard, more that 80,000 individual items. And that didn't count stuff like bolts that came in several sizes, he said.

In preparation for the closure, the store's inventory was reduced through marked down price sales held for several weeks; and finally, the doors were closed last month. Preparations for the auction were nearing completion on Friday. Sam Downs of the Downs' Auction Service in Fair Play, Mo. was chosen to make the sale because he specializes in corporate auctions, said Vinyard.

Downs will begin selling promptly at 10 a.m., today, and said the sale should be well attended. He said he has had inquiries from Iowa, IIllinois, Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma.

The Vinyard name and reputation of reliability and Vinyard's wide recognition in that specific business and the company's reputation for community involvement were cited as some of the reasons Downs believed there'd be a big turnout Downs said they are "finding more and more stuff all the time" and that he felt "very privileged to be associated with the liquidation of this company."

Concessions for the sale will be provided by the 4-H Interstate Exchange -- a group raising money to send 4-H kids from Vernon County to Kentucky next summer. A variety of food and drinks will be offered including homemade pies, pizza, hot dogs, nachos, etc.

When the sale is done it will be the end of an era, but not the end of things for Bob Vinyard. He said that due to contracts and licensing agreements with Ace Hardware, The Wheatbelt Group and Radio Shack it will take four or five years to completely wind the corporation down.

But he has some plans for the down time now that he doesn't have to be at the store every day.

He and Margaret like spending time at their home in Branson. They plan to do more of that, perhaps a bit of fishing, but "it's a debate where we'll spend the most time," he said.

Vinyard said he's "hoping that when it's over; I can relax, erase it."

One of Vinyard's hobbies is making rope. Lassos, jump ropes and stuff. He said he'd like to make it down to a big crafts festival they have in Mountain Home, Ark., every year and do some of that. He wants to take it easy. "Hopefully, I won't wake up at night and think I forgot to do this or that," he said.

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