As Deakyne’s True Value gears up to celebrate its 40th anniversary, the tight-knit family reflects on its past
The year is 1977. Don and JoAnn Deakyne, newlyweds, are spending their honeymoon checking out a True Value hardware store in Pierre, South Dakota. That same year, the couple opened a store
of their own, Deakyne’s True Value Hardware, at its first location on the corner of Minnetonka Boulevard and County Road 101.
Fast forward to the present: Deakyne’s True Value has shifted a couple storefronts down to its current location, nestled between Snuffy’s Malt Shop and Lakewinds Food Co-op. The Deakynes’ granddaughter, Courtney Strachota, 14, stands in uniform behind the checkout counter alongside her dad, Rory, who serves as the hardware store’s general manager.
“Last weekend was Courtney’s first weekend working on her own without me here,” Rory Strachota said proudly of his daughter.
For Don and JoAnn, who celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in January, the hardware store has been embedded in their family since the beginning. They now anticipate next weekend’s 40th anniversary of the store, the oldest family-run hardware store in Minnetonka.
The celebration will be 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 11 and 12, and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13, at the store, 17507 Minnetonka Blvd. Attendees can expect sales and specials, free snacks and product demonstrations.
Over the past 40 years, Deakyne’s has been a neighborhood staple and has stocked families with batteries and flashlights during the Y2K scare, sold out of snowblowers during the winter storm of 1991, and stood up against competitively priced “big-box” stores.
Don Deakyne, 89, said he didn’t envision this degree of long-term success when he first opened the store.
“We were just trying to make a decent living out of the thing and whatever happened, happened,” he said.
The family balanced operating the store while raising eight kids. Don managed the store day-to-day; JoAnn did the bookwork at home and in the store’s office, oftentimes bringing the kids along with her. All of the children cycled through working the store as teenagers—some by choice, others not—and some continued working there into adulthood.
According to Lisa Strachota, the youngest of the eight children, growing up at a hardware store teaches one practical life skills one wouldn’t get anywhere else. She reflects about knowing her way around paint and lawnmowers by the time she was 15 years old with a laugh.
“It’s like the best job ever as a kid,” she said.
Lisa was 5 years old when the store opened. Now, she’s more than happy to be part-owner of the store. “I want to keep it in the family. I want to make sure it continues,” she said.
Don Deakyne, who was never interested in selling the store outside of the family, said he is also happy and confident letting his kin run the store. Rory Strachota came on as general manager in 1999, and Deakyne slowly phased out of his management role in the years to come. Eventually, Rory and Lisa Strachota plan to buy the business and officially become its full owners.
Deakyne attributes much of the store’s success to its prime location within the community and its convenience.
But according to Lisa Strachota, what ultimately what makes their family-run business successful, besides remaining competitively priced with big-box stores, are the returning customers who enjoy the welcoming and personalized customer service.
The family knows their regular customers on a first-name basis, and the regulars know them as well. A handful have been shoppers since day one. In turn, the customers have watched the Deakyne family grow up.
“Some guy told me the other day when I asked him if he was a rewards member: ‘Well, I’ve only been coming here for 40 years!’” Courtney Strachota, Lisa and Rory’s daughter who started part-time at the store in April, chimed in.
All the family members agreed that it’s these customers, and a community that is supportive of local businesses, that are the main factors behind the success of the past 40 years.
“So, the long and short of it is, we hope it’ll be around another 40 years,” Don Deakyne said.
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