The sign went up the day after Christmas. A final sale. Everything half off. Customers did not want to believe it. Bruce Variety in Bethesda is closing.
Linda Schmitt has been shopping at Bruce Variety since she was a young girl.
She remembers walking around with her four siblings looking for all types of gadgets.
"Bruce's Variety has always been a very real place no matter if you're a little kid or if you're gray-haired like myself," Schmitt says.
She is one of many customers who called the place an institution.
But because of higher rent, owners decided they'll be closing down until they can find a better place.
Linda Ridenour and her husband are only the second set of owners.
"We love our customers," says Ridenour. "They have been incredible to us. There really aren't many businesses around that have that type of track record."
Customers span through several generations because the store first opened in 1953.
Renee Dunham has been coming to the store 40 years.
"There is an intimacy about the store and there was a dependability about the store," Dunham says. "And where else could I get reflective bicycle tape that I could sow on to my nap sack."
The owners say that they've been working with a commercial real estate agent with the hopes of finding a different location in the same neighborhood. So far, no luck.
"We haven't given up. But it's hard to find the right fit," Ridenour says.