As quietly as she oversaw the day-to-day operations at the hardware and Hallmark stores, longtime owner, bookkeeper and matriarch Sandra “Sandy” Lynn Schauer passed away on June 10 due to complications from a stroke at the age of 76.
“People said they would try not to break things when they found out why we closed this past week,” her son Richard said. “But, thankfully stuff still breaks, so here we are.”
Schauer held a degree in teaching but only worked in the profession for about a year. When her husband, Wayne and his younger son, Richard, decided to move the family hardware store to Forest Park, Schauer assumed the role of secretary and bookkeeper.
The family acquired the Schauer Hallmark store building several years after opening the hardware store, as a way to give the hardware store more workspace in the basement. Their eldest son Scott moved over to manage the Hallmark store. He said that his mother was responsible for all the merchandising at Hallmark and worked directly with the corporate offices at Hallmark about what she thought was unfair pricing.
“Sandy ordered ornaments, did the merchandising and kept a watch on what was popular,” he said, adding that Schauer completed all the bookkeeping by hand.
“She knew all the in’s and out’s of the business, except the technology, she did not like technology,” Scott said, adding: “Every day she wrote her notes about what was here. That was her system, it was her way and it worked.”
Her younger son Richard said that, until her passing, she would process time cards and staff payroll every week the old school way.
“I tried to shove the newest technology at her but she wasn’t having it,” Richard said.
Wayne and his sons took charge of the day-to-day operations at the stores while their mother stayed behind the scenes, which they said is where she liked it. They said she could walk through the store and no one really knew who she was but that she was charitable and kept the family grounded.
“Sandy insisted that the popcorn machine popped every weekend because it helps the food pantry in town, so those traditions will continue,” Richard said. “It was one of the little things she made sure stayed in place and it will continue to stay in place.”
No matter how dedicated Schauer was to the stores, her great love was spending time with her family, especially her granddaughter, Livi. After her husband’s death in June 2011, Schauer threw herself into work and spending time with Livi, cooking, taking her places and hanging out at the store.
Sandy also loved Forest Park. She would attend events and helped create the annual Schauer Hardware’s Ladies Night Out. She was always welcoming to those who knew who she was.
“She was the backbone to both businesses,” Scott said. “She was well liked in the community of aging population. The new, younger generation didn’t know her as well. They know Richard but that’s what Sandy wanted.”
They said Schauer was always there to listen and help other small business owners, offering her honest opinion, even if it what was not what clients wanted to hear. They said they will do their best to keep things running the way she did.
“You couldn’t fill my father’s shoes when he passed, he was larger than life and Sandy was the heart and soul of these businesses,” Richard said. “So now, we just want to combine the two to keep moving. We will suck it up and keep going. We will find a way to get it done. We are here fix things and we will keep fixing them, so we will keep going. Ultimately, it’s all about the family. You want to be a business but you can’t lose touch of how you got here.”
Over the last 60 plus years of being in the business, the Schauer sons can’t recall the stores closing a day other than when their father and mother died. Richard said a pile of papers has stacked high on his mother’s empty desk.
“I find myself numb, putting up a front to get things done,” he said. “So every day, I will tackle a little bit at a time to get it done as she would have done. It’s all I can do.”