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Kenmore Lumber Co. will close its doors at the end of the month after nearly a half century of doing business on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo.

Owner Donald McPhail, who will soon turn 60, said he has decided to shut down and retire, noting that times have changed for the retail lumber and hardware industry.

"It's not what it used to be. There's all these new places that sell the basic stuff, but don't provide the service," McPhail said, without mentioning by name Home Depot or Builder's Square.

Both of those huge, do-it-yourself mega-retailers will open within a few blocks of the old-time lumber dealer, which is located at 2230 Elmwood Ave., between Hinman and Kenmore avenues.

McPhail sent letters to his friends and loyal customers this week, letting them know he's holding a "gigantic quitting business sale" starting March 29, but inviting his long-time patrons to come in early for special deals.

"I figure they've helped us over the years, they should get a first look at what we've got left," McPhail said.

The staff of Kenmore Lumber was notified of the owner's decision to close up late last year, giving them time to find new positions. Adding to the weight of the closure is that fact that McPhail is putting his two sons out of work.

"This is a tough thing to do, but I have to do it. They know this wasn't how I wanted things to go," he said.

The Buffalo lumberyard is one of a dying breed of small, hometown retailers who offer contractors and home handymen everything from lumber to millwork to doors.

In recent years the small retailers have faced increasing competition from huge national chains, including Home Depot, Builder's Square, Grossman's and 84 Lumber.

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