Blue Island hardware store open since 1876 for sale

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When Fred Jebens opened his hardware store in Blue Island in 1876, it became the place to go for hard-to-find parts and good customer service. (WLS)

When Fred Jebens opened his hardware store in Blue Island in 1876, it became the place to go for hard-to-find parts and good customer service.

Today, it's owned by Arthur Buhlmann, who bought it 30 years ago from the Jebens family, and managed by his longtime partner, Judy Tuma, and they work hard to maintain its reputation.

"We just go out of our way. If we don't have it, we'll look for it and give it to our customer," said Tuma.

"So any hard-to-find pieces of equipment that you would need, Jebens has it," said customer Mike Walsh.

It's a business that's more like a passion for Buhlmann, who helped bring the store back to how it looked when it first opened, the original wood and glass display cases filled with antique parts perfect for anyone restoring an older home.

"I brought it back to the 1800s so to speak," said Buhlmann.

But modern day changes, like the bridge that went up behind it years ago, have made it harder to find for customers.

"People would put our address in and they would call me from on top of the bridge, 'it says we're here,' because they're over our location," said Tuma

To make up for dwindling business, Buhlmann sought out industrial and commercial patrons, but now the 75 year old is putting Jebens Hardware on the market.

He says between the inventory and the building, it's worth about $800,000. But he will only sell it to someone who will keep it open.

"Someone who's gonna come in here and love the store, love working with customers and just wants to keep it going," said Buhlmann.

"Many hardware stores are gone. We want this to continue on," said Tuma.

The sale of the building would also include an apartment upstairs.

Buhlmann says the decision to sell was a tough one, but he's ready to take his first-ever vacation.

Jebens Hardware is just off Western Avenue in Blue Island.
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realestatesmall businessbusinesshistoryBlue Island
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