Butch Weiss picked up the phone on Christmas morning to learn a Papillion farmer needed help milking his cows.
That was more than 20 years ago. Weiss took heated tape to the farmer to thaw his milking machine.
The tape did the job, and the farmer was able to milk his cows.
Christmas was saved and the swollen udders of a few cows found relief.
Weiss — who owns Papillion Hardware with his wife, Terry — has provided the city with reputable customer service for 32 years, operating out of a century-old building with a Norman Rockwell-esque look and all the architectural trappings of such an antique storefront.
The Papillion couple often threatened to send their grandchildren to the dungeon located under their business.
Butch Weiss said the only way to access the basement is through a wooden panel built into the storeroom floor.
But an era of creative discipline and loyal customers will soon end. They have discounted their inventory and plan to close the store at 123 N. Washington St. by midsummer.
“We've been here 32 years, six days a week,” Terry Weiss said. “It's time for a break.”
The Weisses purchased the store on Jan. 1, 1981. The building, which is a former drugstore and grocery store, first opened to the public as a hardware store in 1920.
The Weisses kept the tradition going and made updates to keep up with the times.
The store now offers chain-saw sharpening, pipe threading and window, screen and lamp repair.
After the couple retire, they're going to spend time at home and possibly travel. They may rent the building.
“Change is difficult for everybody,” Terry Weiss said. “It's difficult because we've been here so long.”
Terry Weiss said customers are sad the business is closing, but they are still stopping in to purchase supplies or start up a conversation with employees.
“We've developed a lot of really great relationships with people coming through the door,” Terry Weiss said. “We'll miss being able to visit with people as they come in and be part of their lives.”