True dedication to one community is serving it for 127 years. That is exactly what Henslee Hardware has done. It began in 1887 from meager start under a tent by owner John Franklin Henslee with a $500 inventory with everything from whiskey and nuts and bolts to caskets, farm implements and dynamite.
The iconic red building store has remained a staple at 21 North Side of the Square in Cooper.
When J.F. Henslee passed away in 1938, his grandson Quentin Miller inherited the family business. The original owner had completed 51 years in Cooper and at the time was the oldest merchant or business in Delta County under continuous operation.
Miller recalls he was one of the first to help provide and finance tractors for local farmers. With the ever-changing society, the hardware store again expanded into the appliance sales with gas ranges, washing machines and small appliances some to the very same families who purchased their first plows and buggies.
From the 1970 centennial edition of the Review, “Now 5 generations have been through the threshold of the Henslee Hardware in 83 years.”
Miller passed away in January of 2003 passing the estate to his family and his son, Frank Henslee Miller.
Until his death in April 2013 he was the store’s keeper.
Crossing the store’s threshold is like stepping back in time. The tin ceiling, original wood and glass display cases, the smell of wood and bit of dust and even a rotary phone – the hallmarks time frozen in history.
“We are closing the store in order to settle the estate,” Judy Miller Falls, Frank’s sister, explained on the difficult decision. The store’s merchandise is currently 60 percent off regular price.
In the final days of Henslee Hardware, it has seen an increase in customers – some to just say a final goodbye and some looking for their usual personable service while finding the right eight penny nail.