James Lumber’s owner: ‘The time is right’

Mitch James talks about the reasons for closing, and what might happen next

POULSBO — A Poulsbo landmark is closing.

Starting at 7:30 a.m. Sept. 14, James Lumber/Ace Hardware, 19801 Viking Ave., began selling everything “down to the walls” and closing its doors forever. On Sept. 13, Mitch James, who runs the business, talked to Kitsap News Group about what went into the decision to close and what the future might hold for him and the property.

Kitsap News Group: So how big is the James Lumber property?

James: About five acres. There are six parcels of property here, bordered by Viking [Avenue] and Liberty Road and, on the backside, by a small county road that’s on the border of Poulsbo city limits.

KNG: How long has James Lumber been in business?

James: It was originally founded in 1956 … and then my parents bought the business in 1968. The first day they owned it was April Fools Day. We were originally over where the Les Schwab building is today. We moved over here [to the present location] about 1976 and we’ve been here ever since.

KNG: Why the decision to close now?

James: The time is right, first of all. This business isn’t returning an appropriate return on investment. Without the ability to buy enough inventory to make a real profitable lumber yard and hardware store, it just makes sense to go a different direction.

KNG: And what direction is that?

James: We’re still finding that out. We don’t have a firm plan yet. There’s some opportunities we’re exploring and that all takes time … I think we’re one of the largest available commercial properties on the west side of Poulsbo.

KNG: So, what are some of those opportunities? Apartments?

James: Let’s put it this way: I haven’t talked to anybody about that, but, sure, it’d be a great place to do that. I’d love to see some sort of living facility or nice office building on our back parcel, because it sits up above with a beautiful view of Liberty Bay and the port as well as Mount Rainier. But we have actually nothing firm at the moment.

KNG: What about the sale?

James: We’re starting our business closing sale [Sept. 14] … Everything has a discount and we will continue to sell until everything’s gone, all of the equipment, all of the inventory, all of the trucks, vehicles — everything. We’re going to hopefully have bare walls when we are done.

KNG: So what are your own plans for the future?

James: My plans are to finish the close-out, finish the book-keeping aspects of the business, and take some time off. I haven’t had any time off since 2004, 2006 — somewhere in there — and take some time to decompress a little bit. I need to decide what I want to do when I grow up and see what opportunities come my way.

KNG: so, are you thinking of selling or leasing the property?

James: We’re open to any offer that comes our way … We have all five acres listed at $1.95 million. Our realtor has done the numbers two different ways and comes up with that’s a fair asking price.

NKH: So will there be an Ace Hardware in Poulsbo now?

James: Unfortunately, not. There’s Bainbridge Island Ace Hardware and the Bremerton Ace Hardware and the Ace Hardware in Port Orchard.

— Terryl Asla is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at tasla@soundpublishing.com.

A disappointed customer reads a store flier about the closing business sale that starts Sept 14.                                Terryl Asla/Kitsap News Group

A disappointed customer reads a store flier about the closing business sale that starts Sept 14. Terryl Asla/Kitsap News Group