State - INACTIVE

New owners reopen Modesto True Value

You just can't keep a good hardware store down.

Modesto True Value is coming back after closing in February. The owners of Sorensen's True Value in Los Banos have taken over the longtime neighborhood store, which reopens today.

Husband-and-wife owners Miles and Cina Sorensen have run the Los Banos True Value since 1975, when they took over from Miles' father, Al Sorensen. The senior Sorensen founded the shop in 1947.

The couple took over the lease of the building on Coffee Road just north of East Orangeburg Avenue from former Modesto True Value owner Gladys Setliff, whose family ran the store for 36 years until its closure Feb. 20.

"The hardware community is a small community, so we had heard that they were closing and that 12 people were going to lose their jobs and that it was a good store," said Miles Sorensen. "We're just hoping that people really do appreciate having a hardware store in their neighborhood that has excellent service and competitive prices."

The Sorensens have rehired half of the former store's staff, including manager Debra Cook. The store has 12 employees total.

Cina Sorensen said it's their experience with the staff that they hope will bring back old customers and attract new ones.

"Everyone has a specialty," she said. "Some are really good at plumbing, others lawn and garden."

The Sorensens took over in March and have been remodeling ever since. The front of the store has been painted, as has the inside. All the fixtures are new as well as the racks, signs and many displays.

The store has increased its inventory, offering more options in tools, piping, hardware and other items.

Despite all the changes, manager Cook said customers can expect "the same old hands-on service."

Customers have been stopping in to see when the store will reopen. Returning employee Jim Griffith said a man who stopped by Friday morning told him he bought a drill there years ago, when drills cost $5, that still works.

"People are so excited that it's going to open again," Griffith said. "We do things that the other stores don't do. We can help customers step by step."

A grand-opening celebration is planned for July 17 with a barbecue, raffles and giveaways of items such as tools and a lawn mower.

"This economy is really scary. But we took the chance because there is no doubt in my mind that it will turn around," Miles Sorensen said. "You get so sick of the doom and gloom."

Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at mrowland@modbee.com or 578-2284.

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