Hoy’s Celebrates 85 Years

Hoy’s Hardware and Home Improvement Center celebrated its 85th anniversary this week by offering big sales and raffle prizes while reflecting back on the history that brought them this far.

Kicking off the event on Wednesday, June 5, County Commissioner Sherrie Sprenger addressed the day’s first customers, sharing her gratitude for a small business that has been able to ride the ups and downs of a changing world as it experienced wars, economic hardships and a pandemic.

“You were here throughout all of it and kept the doors open throughout all of it and served this community throughout all of it,” she said. “This is significant history and it’s important Sweet Home history.”

Images depict Hoy’s Hardware growth since 1970. Photo taken from “Sweet Home A History in Pictures”

Ivan Hoy purchased the Johnson Meyers hardware store in 1939 and, according to current owner Greg Mahler, soon moved the business across the street downtown because the building was in shambles.

Hoy was one of the original volunteer firefighters for Sweet Home’s first fire department, formed in late 1938. According to historian Mona Waibel, Hoy later stepped in as a temporary fire chief, a job that lasted 22 years “before anyone noticed he wasn’t the real chief.” At that point, the city made his position official and he continued with the department until his retirement in 1975.

Aside from running a fire department and managing the hardware store, Hoy also served his community as chamber director, mayor and school board member.

“Ivan Hoy was a phenomenal man,” Mahler said. “He was a man with such integrity.”

In 1971, Hoy sold his business “on a handshake deal” to Californian John Mahler, who then sold everything he owned and moved his family up to Sweet Home the following year. Two years later, John purchased two acres at 3041 Main Street to construct a 6,000 square foot building for his business.

Today, Hoy’s Hardware is more than 22,000 square feet, in addition to Hoy’s Home Improvement Center, which was erected in 2017. Mahler’s son, Greg, took over ownership of the business in 2020.

Ivan Hoy, far right, poses with the rest of Sweet Home’s first fire crew. Photo taken from “Sweet Home’s Good Old Days, Vol. 5”

Both the Mahler owners not only honored the store’s founder by keeping the original business name, but they also followed in his footsteps by serving the community in a voluntary capacity. John volunteered with the fire department and served on City Council as did his son Greg, who still sits on City Council and is clocking 37 years with the fire department. John’s wife also served the community in various capacities through clubs and the Beautification Committee.

Looking back on what his father went through to maintain and expand a family-run business in Sweet Home during the past eight decades brought tears to Greg’s eyes. He explained that soon after John purchased the store and moved it to a larger location for better parking, the economy “tanked.” That was the 1980s. Then, as the economy improved, Walmart moved into Lebanon, which ultimately affected businesses in Sweet Home.

Commissioner Sherrie Sprenger, at left, expresses gratitude for the long-standing history of Hoy’s Hardware in the community during the store’s anniversary kick-off event on June 5. With her are Greg Mahler, Bonnie Neal, Teresa Mahler, Mahler grandkids and John Mahler. Photos by Sarah Brown

“We had a thriving town for small business and they killed it,” Greg said. “There was nothing left (but) empty storefronts.”

Still, John weathered that obstacle and “got back on his feet.” Now small businesses face competition through online stores such as Amazon.

“We’re trying to figure out how to survive in the way business is being done these days,” Greg said.

As Greg shared about the longstanding history Hoy’s has in Sweet Home, resident Keith Wooley approached Greg and thanked him.

“I don’t know how I coulda gotten by without you guys here,” he told Greg. “We woulda had to put in miles and miles and miles to go to Lebanon and Albany or Eugene. And I did for a while but, you know, you got everything right here. You don’t have to travel for it.”

Greg Mahler, at right, walks around during the Hoy’s anniversary event on Saturday, June 8.

To highlight the 85th anniversary, sales at Hoy’s Hardware were in an “85” theme. The first customers on Wednesday walked out with items such as box fans ($8.50) and DeWalt cordless drills with two batteries ($85). True Value paint was marked 85% off, and many items were on sale for $8.50.

On Saturday, Hoy’s employees served up hot dogs and chips, and distributors from Diablo, Quikrete, Valspar and DeWalt offered raffle prizes.

As Sprenger closed her remarks during the kick-off event, Sprenger had one last thing to say.

“Thank you for giving to the community, and I hope that we’re giving back to you in the same measure.”