OROVILLE – After 78 years the Prince family sold Prince’s Department Store, Ace Hardware and the warehouse business to Jack and Mary Hughes. On Saturday, May 5 the couple plan a Grand Reopening with special prices, giveaways and activities for the whole family.
Since the business sold in Feb. 1, 2011, there have been many changes to the all facets of the business. A trip to the department store, Ace Hardware and the warehouse downtown, reveal a much different look.
“You can see many of the obvious changes to the department store, like the Great Wall of T-shirts and hats that went up, we redid the jewelry department and the big TVs advertising our products,” said Jack Hughes. “The employees have all switched over to radios so it is easier for us and quicker for the customers to get answers and price checks.”
The warehouse has top quality clothing brands from buying close-outs that help to keep the prices down, he adds. It addition there’s a small engine repair shop at the warehouse and that store carries the Stihl line of chainsaws and weed trimmers.
“There is also horse tack and a lot more major appliances,” Hughes said. “We also have a big room full of the Delta line of truck boxes.
“If people haven’t been in there for awhile they won’t recognize it.”
Ben Prince Sr. founded the business in 1933 in a store front on Main Street, calling the store Ben Prince Thifty Store. Over the years the business has grown and a new building, where the warehouse is located today, was built on Ironwood in 1958. After Ben’s son Jim joined the business it was extended to two buildings.. The shopping center on Highway 97 was opened in June of 1978 and included the grocery store and department store. Since that time the building has undergone two expansions.
Hughes, who led the team at Prince’s Ace Hardware, was a big part of the businesses success and growth. He and his wife Mary find owning the business to be a challenge, but he adds, “We really like it, we’re enjoying it.”
He says it gets really busy for them from April to July as their Discount Fireworks business also takes up a lot of time.
“We’ve had a lot of positive input and encourage people to tell us about new things they’d like to see. We’ll trying anything if we can get enough requests. We’ll put it in… we really to listen to what people have to say,” he said.
Hughes said he didn’t really have a lot of experience in the soft line of the store, working primarily with the hardware in the past.
“We have really good people in charge of buying for us, they’ve done a really good job for us. In fact all the staff has,” he said.
While Oroville and Canadian shoppers have always been a large part of Prince’s business, Hughes said the store is seeing a lot more people from Tonasket and Omak.
“We’re working hard to get a lot of the name brands and I think that’s paying off,” he said.
In addition to shopping the special prices next Saturday, Hughes invites people to come and have a hot dog being served by the Shriners and Masons. He also said they have a big fish tank where kids can fish for one of 250 trout and a really big bounce house for the kids.
There will also be a fashion show featuring local kids and adults modeling clothing from the department store.