Owner Ken Nichols closes up.

 

Owner Ken Nichols closes up.

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post

Nichols Hardware founder Edward E. Nichols Sr., who opened the Purcellville store in 1914.

 

Nichols Hardware founder Edward E. Nichols Sr., who opened the Purcellville store in 1914.

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post

Ken Nichols, 80, worked in his father's store all his life and became the second-generation co-owner of the store, first with his brother, Edward Nichols Jr., and then with his nephew Ted.

 

Ken Nichols, 80, worked in his father's store all his life and became the second-generation co-owner of the store, first with his brother, Edward Nichols Jr., and then with his nephew Ted.

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post

The store's third-generation co-owner, Ted Nichols, shown here in 2009, was killed in a car accident, along with wife Karen and mother-in-law Doris Louer, in September 2010. Now the store's future is uncertain.

 

The store's third-generation co-owner, Ted Nichols, shown here in 2009, was killed in a car accident, along with wife Karen and mother-in-law Doris Louer, in September 2010. Now the store's future is uncertain.

Katherine Frey/The Washington Post

Employee Lee Jacobs prepares to open the store. He has worked at Nichols Hardware for 26 years.

 

Employee Lee Jacobs prepares to open the store. He has worked at Nichols Hardware for 26 years.

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post

Ken Nichols, left, helps customer Randy Franck of Round Hill. The hardware store has retained a loyal customer base that includes local farmers and homeowners.

 

Ken Nichols, left, helps customer Randy Franck of Round Hill. The hardware store has retained a loyal customer base that includes local farmers and homeowners.

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post

Scott Hall of Purcellville visits Nichols Hardware with children Sophie, 6, Aiden, 3, and Nathan, 8.

 

Scott Hall of Purcellville visits Nichols Hardware with children Sophie, 6, Aiden, 3, and Nathan, 8.

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post

Employees Rick Barton, left, who has worked at Nichols for almost 30 years, and Larry Ballard, who has been there seven, behind the counter and in front of a wall lined with boxes of hardware.

 

Employees Rick Barton, left, who has worked at Nichols for almost 30 years, and Larry Ballard, who has been there seven, behind the counter and in front of a wall lined with boxes of hardware.

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post

Rick Barton, left, sits in the bookkeeper's office as Ken Nichols makes his last rounds before closing the store.

 

Rick Barton, left, sits in the bookkeeper's office as Ken Nichols makes his last rounds before closing the store.

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post

Larry Ballard works on the ledger.

 

Larry Ballard works on the ledger.

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post

Bookkeeper Yvonne Lickey has been at Nichols Hardware 61 years.

 

Bookkeeper Yvonne Lickey has been at Nichols Hardware 61 years.

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post

Yvonne Lickey with Ken Nichols in his office. After Ted's death, Nichols insisted on going to the store every day.

 

Yvonne Lickey with Ken Nichols in his office. After Ted's death, Nichols insisted on going to the store every day.

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post

Larry Ballard prepares to replace the torn screen in a customer's door at Nichols Hardware.

 

Larry Ballard prepares to replace the torn screen in a customer's door at Nichols Hardware.

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post

Rick Barton, left, hands keys to Ken Nichols before they head out for the evening. For nearly a century, the doors of the hardware store had never been locked by anyone but a Nichols man.

 

Rick Barton, left, hands keys to Ken Nichols before they head out for the evening. For nearly a century, the doors of the hardware store had never been locked by anyone but a Nichols man.

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post

If we could keep him up in the office doing paperwork, that'd be one thing,\

 

If we could keep him up in the office doing paperwork, that'd be one thing," one employee says of Ken Nichols. "But when it gets busy, he feels he should come down and wait on customers.

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post

Ken Nichols locks the front door at Nichols Hardware.

 

Ken Nichols locks the front door at Nichols Hardware.

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post

Ted's son, Mark, with his wife, Debbie. Ted and Karen Nichols never pressured Mark to go into the family business. His sister, Alison, who had cerebral palsy and died in 2004, is the reason he works as a special education supervisor with Loudoun County schools.

 

Ted's son, Mark, with his wife, Debbie. Ted and Karen Nichols never pressured Mark to go into the family business. His sister, Alison, who had cerebral palsy and died in 2004, is the reason he works as a special education supervisor with Loudoun County schools.

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post

Mark Nichols moved his family into his parents' home after their death. Here, he holds a 1929 Nichols Hardware Christmas plate.

 

Mark Nichols moved his family into his parents' home after their death. Here, he holds a 1929 Nichols Hardware Christmas plate.

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post

Ken Nichols, seated in back, in his office overlooking Nichols Hardware.

 

Ken Nichols, seated in back, in his office overlooking Nichols Hardware.

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post

An old newspaper advertisement for Nichols Hardware.

 

An old newspaper advertisement for Nichols Hardware.

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post

Rick Barton, left, and Ken Nichols go over the day's receipts. Mark Nichols sold his father's half of the store to Ken.

 

Rick Barton, left, and Ken Nichols go over the day's receipts. Mark Nichols sold his father's half of the store to Ken.

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post