Why (and when) Harry’s Army Navy is closing its doors
ROBBINSVILLE — "It's time. I'm 66 years old."
Rick Mehr, owner of area landmark Harry's Outdoor (formerly known for decades as Harry's Army Navy) says he's no longer happy with the pace of business at the shop on Route 130.
The outdoor-supply store announced last week that it would be closing after 69 years, and began promoting a sale on all merchandise.
"We have so much merchandise, it's going to take us until at least July," Mehr told New Jersey 101.5.
Mehr's father, Harry, began the business in 1949 after returning home from World War II. He started selling military surplus equipment and clothing from his truck and at a couple of area markets. And he soon expanded the collection to include hunting, fishing, camping and archery gear.
Operations eventually moved to Route 130 in 1964, and at a time, Harry's was the largest retailer of guns in the Garden State. The Mehr family expanded the square footage of the building twice — once in 1971 and again in 1994.
Harry died in 2006, and in 2009, Harry's moved about 50 yards from its original location to the newly-constructed Deer Path Pavilion, which belongs to Rick. Along with that move, Rick sold off the hunting and archery business.
Months ago, Rick decided to make his new location smaller, to cut costs associated with rent and staffing. He cut the store in half but didn't see the financial impact he had been hoping for.
"It wasn't growing fast enough for me," he said.
Pressure from online retail was a factor in the decision to close, Rick admits, but he's also set on the idea of retirement.
"I'm going to take care of my shopping center," he said. "I do a lot of bicycling, so I'll probably do more bike trips and just enjoy my wife and my life a little bit more."
The "entire store is on sale," according to the Harry's website.
"I'm seeing so many old customers who are congratulating me and expressing sorrow at the same time," Rick said. "Around here, we really were an icon."
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.