SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — Shaker Heights Hardware co-owner Jim Gibson struggles to talk about the idea that he and his brother, Rob, might have to shut down their long-running store.

Jim said the original store opened in the early 1920s, before the original store flooded. The store's second location burned down, leading to the third location, built in 1958.

The irony is in a store full of tools and people who know how to use them, the one project Shaker Heights Hardware might not be able to pull off is keeping the doors open after the lease expires in August.

Gibson said even after surviving pushes for new development through the years, more online shopping and big box stores, combined with rising rent, makes it harder to make ends meet.

"That piece of retail pie that we've been accustomed to has not gotten any bigger," Gibson said. "Those individual slices over the years have just gotten smaller and smaller and smaller."

The shelving Shaker Heights Hardware cut for Tyeasha Crumpton wasn't sold there, but her trip to the store on Thursday was one of many she's taken while she remodels her hair salon down the block.

In a Shaker Heights community that has some very old houses, Bill Wanniger came in more than once for special parts to fix a valve in his daughter's home.

"They know the problems these people come in and face all the time," said Wanniger. "The average homes in Shaker were built in the 1920s, not the '90s, and we stock those parts," Gibson said.

And yet, without something new—a new lease with rent the store can cover or a new owner to take the business into the future—Jim said the old school approach could permanently be lost to the past.

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