Northampton lumber store preps to close; sale of property anticipated

Last modified: Sunday, July 14, 2013

NORTHAMPTON — Northampton Lumber Co. is slashing prices in half on everything in its store as it prepares to close for good in the coming weeks, a move that will leave downtown without a lumberyard for the first time in more than 110 years.

Meantime, a potential buyer has emerged for the Pleasant Street building and the property it sits on, though the business declined to say who that buyer is until a final deal is reached.

“The people who are interested are buying the land and the building, but that’s all I can say because they haven’t signed a purchase and sale agreement,” said Dayne Tracy, the real estate agent marketing the property. Tracy expects the deal to close in a week.

Gail LaBarge, who took over Northampton Lumber about a decade ago from her father, longtime owner Charles Paquette, said no one was interested in buying the business. It will close after nearly five decades downtown, though the site had previously been home to a different lumberyard dating back to the early 1900s.

“There was more interest in the property alone,” LaBarge said.

She said there’s a feeling of nostalgia in recent weeks as many longtime customers visit for the final time. Some contractors say they will miss the fact that Northampton Lumber stocks many high-end wood products, compared to other stores that special order those items, LaBarge said.

“People have been coming here for a long time,” she said. “I understand the nostalgia aspect, but that’s just the way it’s playing out.”

The site had been on the market for $1.8 million, but that included a combined price for the business, the 6,400-square-foot building and the 1.23 acres it sits on at 256 Pleasant St.

LaBarge announced last fall that she intended to retire and hoped to sell the family-owned business. While the economic downturn and the emergence of big-box retailers hurt the business, LaBarge said her desire to retire is the primary motivation behind the decision. LaBarge has been running the business with her son Michael White, who is ready to go in a different direction, she said.

The store has had clearance sales in place for several weeks on smaller hardware items and this week offered up its remaining inventory in both the store and lumberyard at 50 percent off.

“People have gotten some pretty good deals,” LaBarge said. “The hardware is pretty well picked over, but we still have paint, gutters, things like that.”

Many of the remaining items will be sold in bulk. The business also intends to sell its trucks and various lumber equipment as well as store fixtures and other items.

The store expects to cut its hours by the end of the week as business dwindles. Most of the store’s eight employees have already moved on to other jobs, LaBarge said.

Paquette bought Northampton Lumber in 1965 from M.C. Bailey, whose hardware store had been around since the early 1900s. LaBarge started out at the business part time, doing the billing, and gradually took on more responsibility.

Over the years the family acquired more land and expanded the size of the lumberyard.


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