A historic northeast Indiana retailer is under new ownership. The KPC News reports the Auburn City Hardware Store has been sold to VRJ Holdings, which is also based in DeKalb County.
Spokesman Jeff Turner tells the publication the new owners plan to keep the store’s historic appearance while changing the business model. Rick and Vicki James are planning to open a restaurant in the historic building and could begin early phases next year.
The store’s heritage dates back to 1850, when it was founded as the Pioneer Hardware Store. Its current building was established in the late-1860s.
Previous owner Bob Kokenge tells the KPC News VRJ Holdings "came along at a good time and offered to buy the building." It had been in the Kokenge family since 1932, which covers three generations.
Last month, Rick and Vicki James were honored with the DeKalb County Partnership’s Allen Graber Citizen of the Year Award for preservation efforts in the city, which include restoration of a downtown retail building and work on the Commerce Building near the courthouse.
Rick James also helped found Metal Technologies Inc. in Auburn. Kokenge plans to run the business until the inventory has been sold.