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Longtime N Main business to close as owner retires

A North Main Street business in Evansville that started with a $20 bill and a dream will soon close as its owner decides to retire. While businessman John Jenkins has contemplated retirement for the past couple of years, the ongoing construction on the North Main complete street project was the tipping point, he said.

Jenkins started what eventually became the HARTT Foundation Thrift Shop back in 1985. The store has been on North Main for 13 years. At just 20 years old, Jenkins and his brother decided they wanted to go into business together.

All they had was $20 a piece.

"We went to an auction and bought a piece of furniture and re-sold it," Jenkins said. "It just kept going from there. My brother worked for the railroad at that time so I took it over and took it from there. Here I am 32 years later still selling used furniture."

Jenkins also owns and operates his own moving company, 1st Choice Moving. It too has been in business for more than three decades.

"I have probably sold more pre-owned furniture than anyone else in Evansville's history. I have the 'who's who' of client lists," Jenkins said. "It has taken me all of these years to get to that point."

Jenkins was born to be a business owner. He went door-to-door selling candy at age 10. At age 13, he worked at for a local auctioneer. He delivered Thrifty Nickel papers and attended auctions regularly.

He routinely worked more than 100 hours a week, he said.

Jenkins has always been on the move. But moving is far different than moving on.

"I've had a fantastic run with it," Jenkins said. "I have met some great people over the years and have become good friends with them. Your body can only do so much and I'm at that point where I need to retire."

North Main street has been undergoing a complete overhaul for about a year. The $13 million complete street project will bring the first protected bike path in Evansville. Jenkins said he certainly appreciates the city allowing him to park some of his larger vehicles on a nearby city-owned lot. However, the construction and intermittent access to his business' storefront has affected his bottom line.

It was time to call it quits.

"I've got family here. I have some good friends that I have met through the moving business," Jenkins said. "They are more than just clients. If it hadn't been for them, I wouldn't be where I'm at today."

Jenkins' property has been listed for sale. The business will be closed and liquidated once it sells, Jenkins said.

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(This story was originally published on October 23, 2017)

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