Pike’s Paint closes after 61 years here

By on October 1, 2014


Dick, Rhonda, Gary and Joanne Pike, locking the door to Pike's Paint for the final time on Saturday afternoon. Missing from the photo was Randy Jo Warner, Joanne's daughter.

Dick, Rhonda, Gary and Joanne Pike, locking the door to Pike’s Paint for the final time on Saturday afternoon. Missing from the photo was Randy Jo Warner, Joanne’s daughter.

Joanne Pike, her sons Dick and Gary, and Gary’s wife, Rhonda, locked the door on Pike’s Paint store Saturday afternoon at two o’clock. They shut the store for good, after a run of 61 years in the paint business, all of it in Ephrata.
It was far from a somber moment. Long-time friends and customers stopped in to say hello, talk about past times, pick up sample books, shelves and other odds and ends the Pikes won’t be needing anymore. There were lots of laughs, no tears and very few regrets. It was a loud party.
Between howdys and reminiscences, Joanne and Gary talked about the way the retail paint business &tstr; and retail business in general &tstr; has changed over the past six decades. Joanne told how she and her husband, the late Richard Pike, had wanted to open a paint store when he was managing the paint department for a hardware store in Coatesville. “But,” she said, “our best friends owned a paint store in Coatesville, and we didn’t feel comfortable competing against them.”
Richard’s mother lived in Ephrata at the time, so the couple moved here in 1953 and opened for business in the first block of Washington Avenue. Four years later, they moved to the current location in the first block of West Main Street.
Dick and Gary joined the business some years after graduating from Ephrata High School.
Ephrata has been good to the Pike family, Joanne said. They lost almost nothing over the years to shoplifters, and their commercial customers &tstr; with very few exceptions &tstr; paid their bills. “We have good people in Ephrata,” she said.
For most of the 61 years, there was a steady flow of customers who needed paint, wallpaper, window treatments and decorating advice. Then many of Ephrata’s good people started taking their business to big box stores and malls. And about 2007, when the U.S. economy started to tank, the store’s reliable stable of small painting contractors went out of business.
“In the the past seven or eight years, we lost 21 contractor customers,” Gary said. “Half our contractors. We couldn’t make a living just off the contractors and we couldn’t make a living just off the retail homeowner customers. We needed them both.”
In a touch of irony, the painting business has begun to rebound. Even so, the contractors who went out of business stayed out of business, and little new business was coming through the Pike’s Paint door. But with more people hiring painters, Dick and Gary figured this could be the perfect time to get out of retail.
There was a Pike family council on Memorial Day weekend of this year, and the business partners decided to shut down, sell the real estate and start new chapters in their lives. They told long-time friends and customers about the move before making it public July 1.
Gary said he will miss the customers and the custom color work that was his specialty. A computer can come up with a formula to match a paint to an existing color, but the formula may need tweaking to get an exact match. There are very few people with the knowledge and talent to tweak, according to Gary. But, blessed with an artist’s eye &tstr; both his father and grandfather were artists &tstr; Gary is able to deal with situations that a computer can’t touch. A customer once brought him a batch of sanding dust. He matched the color on the painted side.
The store closed Saturday while the Ephrata Fair was blaring away outside the door. Dick and Gary spent the rest of the weekend thinking about their new lives, and on Monday they started. They’re now in the business of applying paint rather than selling it, and Monday morning they were in Mount Gretna working on a job they expected to take two weeks to finish.
Joanne is kind of easing into full retirement with a decorating job for an old customer who wants guidance on colors and fabrics. Rhonda, Gary’s wife, has a job lined up with Gauer’s Paint and Decorating in Lancaster, and Randy Jo Warner, Dick and Gary’s sister, plans to spend more time being a grandmother.
Gary, speaking for himself but no doubt echoing the other family members’ sentiments, said, “This is opening a door and stepping through it to the next chapter of my life. I’m a little nervous but I have faith that we can make it work.”



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