Below is the note Lee and Kendra Mayfield wrote to their customers and the Covington community:
It is with great sadness that we let you know that our store on the square is closing after 38 years of business.
We will continue to operate our hardware store in Newton Plaza.
As most of you know, we have struggled over the last several years with the economy and other forces beyond our control. We have tried everything we could think of to prevent this closure. Throughout it all, we have been and will remain strong supporters of our community. We have heard several comments over the last few months about our importance to the square. While we certainly appreciate and have been honored by these sentiments, we know that the downtown and the square will be fine. The square is stronger than any one retailer. Similar feelings were felt when Cohen's, City Pharmacy, People's, Poole's, and Red & White closed or when buildings collapsed, or corporations purchased local businesses. Throughout it all the city, county and, most importantly, the community have remained committed to downtown and the square.
We have hired a retail consultant to handle the closure and have and will follow their lead throughout the process. The last day of regular business on the square will be today, Friday, October 21st. The store will be closed beginning Saturday, October 22nd - Wednesday, October 26th. We will re-open at 9 a.m. for the beginning of the closing sale. We are told that the sale should be complete and the store entirely empty by December 16th.
Lee will continue to run the Newton Plaza store. When announcing this to the employees last night, he stated that the main focus this upcoming year will be on execution. We promise that you will see improvements in product mix (a full line of Craftsman tools was recently installed and more changes will be revealed in the months to come), customer service, staffing levels, training and general retail execution.
We sincerely hope that you will come out and celebrate the 38 years we have spent on the square and will continue to offer your support in the coming years at our Newton Plaza store.
Please keep our children, Lee's mother, our employees and us in your thoughts and prayers as we go through this transition.
Lee & Kendra
Mayfield Hardware will be closing its store on the square after 38 years in business.
The iconic downtown store - known as the go-to place to buy gifts in Covington - has struggled to sell its inventory since the economic downturn, and the owners finally decided it was time to close. The hardware oriented store in Newton Plaza will remain open.
The square store ended its normal operations Friday and is temporarily closing, but will reopen Thursday in sale mode and stay open until the entire inventory is sold, said co-owner Lee Mayfield. The target date for the final closing is Dec. 16, but will depend on sales as Mayfield isn't expecting to move anything from the square location to the Newton Plaza one. Hours will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
"When we made the decision to expand the store five years ago, the world was a different place. We moved forward based on all of the numbers and projections at that point. Then the housing market and everything else is hit. We've struggled since then to make things work," he said.
The company reworked the downtown store last year, but sales didn't pick up.
"We basically just decided we needed to do something that can relieve the stress off of us, pay down some of the debt we took on and move on as a stronger organization," Mayfield said.
The Mayfield family owns the building, and Lee said he's hoping to find a tenant or tenants, preferably in retail, to lease the building to. The Mayfields hired a retail consultant with experience in clearing out and closing stores who will help them through the emotional process.
Though the store will remain open for a while, the outpouring from devoted customers was immediate.
"This is devastating," local Lauren Ellington commented on Mayfield's Facebook page. "I am deeply, deeply saddened by this. I love Mayfield's."
Resident Jenny Brewer recalled how her father would give her and her siblings $100 each year to buy Christmas gifts at the store.
"I want to thank you for many great memories and wish you all the very best in the future," she commented on Facebook.
Kendra Mayfield said Friday had been a tough day, noting that the store had a personal connection for so many people, including her.
"Everybody had their thing," Kendra said when asked about the store's most iconic gifts. "We tried to hit everybody's buttons and meet their needs."
She recalled a bride who was so excited to finally create a wedding registry at Mayfield's because she had grown up always expecting to do that. Lee said customers support had been incredibly flattering.
"We are totally honored by the support given and by the emotional attachment that people have to our store," Lee said. "We have tried to uphold that even with this closing. We are doing it in such a way that it's going to be a fun event. We want people to come in and have a good time. We're going to have contests and prizes; it's going to be celebration of what we had here."
The hardware store has been on the square for more than a hundred years, and though its time is at the end, the Mayfield's plan to be a part of this community for many more years.
Lee said the family is going to focus on the existing hardware store in Newton Plaza and is excited to be adding new products to that store including the Craftsman line of tools. He said a few of the highest performing product lines from the square location may also be carried over the hardware store, which will likely undergo some reorganization.
Main Street Covington Director Josephine Kelly said the store's closing was a terrible loss for the city.
"It has been a very sad day for the downtown district and this program; we are losing a partner, institution and anchor for the downtown district," she said.
However, in an email to the Mayfield's Kelly said the need for the company to strengthen and reposition itself was more important in the long run.
"On behalf of the Main Street Covington program our heartfelt thanks for all the many ways that the family and the business has served and sustained the downtown district over the past 38 years," Kelly wrote.