After nearly four decades of operation in eastern Idaho, a local craft and frame store will close its doors next week, and is hosting a liquidation sale beginning Thursday.
With locations in Rexburg and Idaho Falls, Porter’s Craft and Frame has become a mainstay in the business community of both cities, providing customers with craft services. The closure will not affect Porter’s Office Products, which has locations in Rexburg and Pocatello.
But three generations of work in Rexburg did not start simply from a Rexburg storefront in 1980. Chuck Porter, owner of Porter’s Craft and Frame, has been involved with his family’s business since he was young, and helped continue this legacy.
“The store’s genesis was a bookstore as a sideline for my grandfather’s newspaper business,” Porter said. “My grandfather bought the store in 1916. My wife and I bought into the business in 1980, and we’ve been here since.”
Along with his wife, Linda Porter, Chuck transformed a family business into a stand-alone entity that became a centerpiece of downtown Rexburg. Transforming from a bookstore to a Ben Franklin department store, the establishment reached its final form with Porter’s Craft and Frame, focusing on craft supplies for Rexburg residents.
“When we started the business we kind of morphed ourselves into a craft store,” Porter said. “While expanding and doubling the size of it.”
The Porters added a second store in Idaho Falls in 1994, which will also be liquidating inventory in the coming days. The Idaho Falls store is at the corner of East 25th Street and Hitt Road.
Initially, Porter attempted to find a buyer for both locations, but was unsuccessful.
“We had some leads and pursued selling the business, but to sell it, it was pretty much a reflection of my wife and myself,” he said. “People who want the related locations generally want to start out on their own, so we’re going out of business and liquidating our merchandise with the intentions of someone else coming in, renting the place, and bringing in their own merchandise.”
Porter will continue to own the buildings in Rexburg and Idaho Falls, and is pursuing future occupants.
As for the store’s customers, Porter said there has been a mixed reaction.
“The customers I’ve been in contact with have been pretty positive,” he said. “They say they’re disappointed, but they understand.”
But Porter assures customers the liquidation is not due to economic constraints.
“We knew we had to make a change, because we were wearing out,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of health issues in the last few years, and I don’t have the strength or stamina I used to have.”
Porter mentioned sales have been on the upswing recently between the two locations.
The closure of Porter’s in Rexburg is also a blow to the city’s downtown business community, said Chris Mann, CEO and president of the Rexburg Chamber of Commerce.
“Porter’s has been an institution in Rexburg,” he said. “I remember first going there as a student at Ricks College nearly 45 years ago. They will be greatly missed in the community.”
Mann believes its absence will change the landscape of downtown Rexburg
“I know it will make a change to College Avenue, and the downtown feel of the community as they depart,” he said. “But we certainly wish them well on their retirement.”
And while the Porters admit they will miss serving the customers at their two stores, they are excited for the road ahead. But they will not forget the experiences over the past 38 years.
“As we look back on it, the part we’ve enjoyed the most have been the relationships that we’ve formed,” Porter said. “It’s a lifestyle that we’ve had, and we’re going to miss it. But we’ve had tremendous support.”
The liquidation sale of Porter’s Craft and Frame will begin Thursday at the Rexburg and Idaho Falls location.
Reporter Marc Basham can be reached at 208-542-6763.