Old Timer – August 2017

Bergmann Lumber is closing. This is a very, very bad thing.

I don’t fault the Bergmann family for closing, and I can’t blame them for choosing to do so. They have been in operation continuously for 60 years, and well, all good things must come to an end. I know that the daughters (Shanna and Christina) probably had some other plans for their lives, but were sucked into the family business and worked tirelessly to keep it afloat. They are probably also ready to break out and seek new adventures. Randy, the father, lost his wife in 2000 to cancer and has been working his fingers to the bone for decades at the shop. Fishing probably sounds like a little more fun than working the store, I’m sure.

For all involved, it was probably a hard but necessary decision to hang it up. I find it to be a very, very bad thing because their shop was one of the last hold-outs to a bygone era of the “truest of the true” Mom and Pop stores that were built, not on their inventory or amazing website, but on the strength of their handshake and for the fact that they knew your kids and your spouse and about how well your son played last week at the football game. They also were the last of the dinosaurs on Main Street that weren’t there to sell you fancy, over-priced retail crap…but instead, they sold you nuts and bolts and parts and a shovel and some well-made tools. Tangible necessities that people NEED…located right in the heart of this silly “Hill Country Mile” thing that the CVB is always trying to call it.

I’m not cranky about them closing…I’m sad. I don’t have any reason to bitch at the City (as I typically enjoy doing), and I have no excuse to moan about growth as the cause for their closing. It’s just a moment in time, but for me, this is truly one of the last great foundational families that has made Boerne what it is, and now they’re leaving.
I think I’m sad because it makes me feel old, and Lord knows I’m well aware of my age. It makes me one of the last dinosaurs that remember what Main Street USED to look like, and I yearn for it. It was a place of relationships and friendly faces. Women that would walk along and fuss at children that were misbehaving and weren’t their own. Men drinking lemonade under the awning in front of the Auto Parts store. It was a necessity of life in a small town in rural Texas, and Bergmann’s Lumber was always a central character in that story.

Main Street was a place of commerce, just as it is today, but it was much more personal than now. Let’s be honest, how many locals actually go “shopping” on Main Street a lot? I know it happens, but the true lifeblood of commerce for retailers on Main Street now are tourists. Folks that come in from random locations to visit the little German town and window shop on Saturdays. Back in the day, it was a place that you went for the things that you needed. Heck, the original Ford dealer had his cars parked in the parking lot next to the Boerne Grill. There were insurance agents, and law offices, and auto parts stores. Clothing stores that carried cowboy hats and Wranglers. They would even fix your boots. Cheap lunch places where you could take a break and would invariably see a dozen people you know. It was HOME, and it was familiar, and it was quiet.

Bergmann’s Lumber represented that to me as it has remained the same familiar store with the squeaking wooden floors for 60 years. They’ve added some more “tourist-friendly” stuff over the years to compete, but the heart of Bergmann Lumber was that it was a time capsule to a different time. A place where you could enter, see the same smiling faces, and share a laugh with a friend while you picked out a new socket set or some more fencing wire.

And now they’re gone and boy, I feel super duper OLD now.

I know that I like to get snarky with this column and bitch about something stupid that the City is doing, but today is a day of both celebration and mourning. I’ll celebrate the legacy that Bergmann Lumber leaves on this town and how they are forever etched into the history books of this town. At the same time, I will mourn the permanent loss of what once was and will never be again. Our town is exploding with growth, and smart businessmen and women are finding ways to capitalize, as it’s their job to do so. The main section of Main Street will probably forever be a bit of a tourist trap now, and there’s little to remedy it.

So here’s to you, Bergmann Lumber! We salute your dedication to this community for so many decades, we respect your legacy, and wish you well in all that you have planned for your futures.


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