Fritz Lumber Co. to close after more than century in business

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A Main Line landmark that has served generations of families is about to turn off the lights after more than a century in business. (WPVI)

A Main Line landmark that has served generations of families is about to turn off the lights after more than a century in business.

On Friday, the family that has owned it for 153 years, is sharing some fond memories before looking to the future.

The inventory at Fritz Lumber Co. continues to dwindle. The customers are still coming the Main Line landmark even though word has spread it will soon close forever.

"Labor is expensive. It's a lot of overhead that comes with this, and there is competition, and the economy has definitely hurt us," said William "Howard" Fritz IV.

Since the 19th century, through five generations, the Fritz family has owned and operated in Berwyn.

Starting out in 1863 as farm suppliers and moving on into lumber and coal, the family grew to know their customers, their families and their houses.

Fritz is still reflecting on the enduring legacy of his family's business.

"We'll go the extra mile to find those things either other places don't know or don't really want to spend the time to do that," said Fritz.

"They had a reputation and still do for selling the best lumber, and that's still to this day," said Kenneth McCreary, whose been a customer for 50 years.

The Fritz family has kept a fascinating scrapbook that documents decades of sales and agreements with the railroad that dates back to the late 1860s as their customer base grew far beyond the Main Line, across Chester County into Philadelphia and Delaware County as well.

"It's sad, but it's true and, as I said, it's acceptance, and once you come to that realization then it makes it a lot easier," said Fritz.

On Aug. 20, Howard and his father will turn the lights out, close the doors and walk away into history that dates back to the Civil War era.

Goodbye to a family business that has thrived and survived through more than a century-and-a-half of American history.
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