Hardware Retailer Grant Mcvicar, 74; His Store's Coffeepot Was Always On
Wedgwood neighbors this weekend will honor the memory of one of their extraordinary businessmen, hardware retailer Grant Williams McVicar.
The service for Mr. McVicar, who died of renal failure Sept. 9 at 74, is at 6 p.m. tomorrow in Sand Point Community United Methodist Church.
The quiet, unassuming Mr. McVicar stocked his namesake hardware store with the usual nails, drills and saws.
But the tools that made his store a fixture for 40 years at 35th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 85th Street were imagination, wit and a sense of community.
"What was unique about him and his store, it was an old-fashioned hardware store," said his daughter Wendy Stoddard of Issaquah. "My father and his father started it right after World War II when Wedgwood was undeveloped.
"They started on a shoestring. They would have one hammer or one lawn mower. When someone bought something, one of them would run downtown to the supplier and get another."
In the early days, they also sold housewares, gifts, even skis.
The coffeepot was always on. Customers - or anyone who wanted to - would help themselves, using the store to swap stories about home projects or about that new sidewalk going in on nearby Northeast 75th Street.
Among Mr. McVicar's innovations was closing the store at the regular time, then re-opening at 11 p.m. near Christmas - one of the first "moonlight" sales.
He also turned a potential problem around by starting a
Halloween window-painting contest after he found a youngster drawing pictures on his window one day.
Time magazine once featured his idea for having craftspersons do live lecture-demonstrations in the store.
Such practices made him popular in the Wedgwood Chamber of Commerce, which he helped found, and in University Rotary Club.
Mr. McVicar gave many high school students their first jobs, sweeping floors or cashiering after school and on weekends. He sponsored Little League teams. He also pressed his family into service, particularly for inventory.
He made it up by taking them on occasional cruises in a small sailboat he and some friends built.
Or by giving them unusual gifts.
Once he gave his wife, Carol McVicar of Seattle, a 15-foot-tall totem pole with carvings of each family member engaged in a memorable activity.
"And one summer, when he stayed home and the rest of us went to Illinois to visit my mom's family," his daughter said, "we worried about him feeding our goldfish.
"When we returned, the goldfish were gone. But the bathtub was filled with water - and a couple of oversized koi."
Other survivors include his son, Paul, of Seattle; daughter Janis McVicar-Williams of Shoreline; and six grandchildren.
Remembrances may go to University Rotary Club, 4131 11th Ave. N.E., Suite 1, Seattle, WA 98105.
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