With upcoming closing, Weldon's owner reflects on state of business in Lisle, possible TIF

LISLE – Bill Weldon has worked in the store at 4715 Main St. for almost 30 years.

Throughout its five decades in operation, the retail space has had many names – A&P, Home Hardware, Zee’s Home Center, Bruce’s Ace Hardware, Bruce’s Home Center, and finally, Weldon Hardware Supply.

But soon, the sign outside will read “For Rent.”

Weldon and his wife, Sharon, who own the business, have plans to close at the end of the month.

“It wasn’t an easy decision for us to make,” he said.

For the past five years, Weldon’s has offered niche parts and products many larger brands don’t carry and provided free assembly and delivery with a level of customer service he says can’t be found at major chains.

Weldon cited several reasons for shuttering the store: the economy, competition with big box businesses and a roadway structure that makes it difficult for customers driving southbound to access his parking lot.

His lease is up July 1 and his landlord, Oxford Bank, wants a five-year commitment – something Weldon isn’t sure he can make.

Additionally, the village has expressed interest in developing the area around his store, including Family Square Shopping Center – the strip mall that houses it – into a tax increment financing, or TIF, district.

Weldon is concerned establishing such a district would drive out existing businesses.

“The village of Lisle does not support local business,” he said.

Within a TIF district, property taxes paid on the base value of property within the area go to taxing bodies as they normally would. When property values grow, taxes paid on those increases are reinvested in the development of the area.

Lisle Village Manager Jerry Sprecher said the closing of Weldon’s is not directly related to a possible TIF, but is a matter between Weldon and his landlord.

There is concern among village officials about the lack of development at Family Square, Sprecher said. The restaurant space at the mall’s south end has been vacant for several years and is not the only empty real estate in the complex.

“Our village board is very interested in promoting economic development downtown,” Sprecher said.

The board has worked with contractor Kane, McKenna and Associates, which is providing preliminary consulting on economic development options for the area, since March.

There are no finite plans for a TIF at Family Square, but it remains an item of interest for the village, according to Sprecher.

“It is truly conceptual at this point,” he said.

The area where the potential TIF would be located includes Family Square, one largely residential block to the east of the mall and Lisle-Woodridge Fire District Station 51 to the southeast, according to Sprecher.

“We were basically told to look where the greatest need is,” he said.

If a TIF were implemented, it is likely a developer would demolish Family Square and rebuild it, Sprecher said, but when and if that happens depends on Oxford Bank.

After the end of the month, the Weldons will focus their energies on their second business selling industrial fasteners, which they will relocate to Aurora.

Until then, items at Weldon Hardware Supply will be sold at reduced prices, which range from 10 to 50 percent off, and may drop as the closing date approaches.

The store will also offer customers the opportunity to win door prizes. Those who sign up are automatically entered and all patrons receive an additional ticket for every $10 spent.

“It’s hard for me to make the decision to close the store and walk away from it,” Weldon said. “I’m going to dearly miss a lot of my customers.”