Lampe True Value in Bellevue has been a staple of the community for many decades, not only for hardware supplies and equipment, but for support of local schools, local events and local causes.
Owned by the Lampe family of Bellevue since the early 1970s, the store has officially been sold to Jesse and Jackie Kueter, who will take over the longtime business today (Dec. 31). The business will now become ‘Kueter True Value.’
Kueter is a graduate of Marquette High School and Loras College, and worked for E91 in Dubuque prior to purchasing the local hardware store. The couple has four young children.
“Jackie and I are excited to purchase True Value from Chris and Kathie,” said Jesse. “We look forward to serving the community the same way the Lampe family has for the past 40-plus years.”
Chris and Kathie Lampe, who have owned the business since 1995, said they are pleased about the change in ownership, and look forward to helping the Kueters during the transition.
“I am very excited about the new ownership. I plan on helping Jesse get started and learn the ropes, and then I plan on working part-time in the store as long as Jesse is willing to put up with me,” said Lampe. “ This store has been great for our family and Kathie and I couldn’t be happier about having the Kueters taking over the store. Jesse understands hardware, he worked in my store when he was in high school, and he has the ability and personality to take this store to the next level.”
Lampe True Value came to be when Larry and Maryetta Lampe purchased Mootz Hardware from Ben Mootz on January 1, 1973. Chris and Kathie Lampe, purchased the store in January 1, 1995. Lampe True Value was originally located at 122 south Riverview for the first five years. It moved to its current location at 220 south Riverview in late December, 1977.
“I want to thank all my customers over the past 26 years and also those who supported my parents, Larry and Maryetta, for 22 years before that,” said Chris. “Our loyal customer base has been the reason we have been able to keep expanding and making our store better for the people of Bellevue and those who visit our beautiful town. I encourage everyone to support Kueter True Value.”
The decision to sell the hardware store came fairly easy for the Lampe family, as they had been keeping their eye out for a successor in recent years.
“Kathie and I started talking about who might be interested and capable of buying and running our store once I decided to retire. I was a few years from retirement but just wanted to start planning. Jesse and Jackie Kueter had come up a couple times when we talked about it,” explained Lampe. “One evening Jesse and I crossed paths and I mentioned to Jesse I would be selling my store in a couple years if that was something he might be interested in pursuing. Jesse and Jackie talked and decided it was something they wanted to talk to us about. After talking a few times Jesse asked if I would be interested in selling sooner and staying on as an employee to help out for a while. We both started looking into it more and it worked best to sell at the end of this year.”
So as with the Lampe’s, Kueter True Value will continue to offer not only hardware and supplies, but also offers online shopping, rental equipment, special orders for items not in stock, scissor sharpening, knife sharpening, glass cutting and replacement, plexiglass, and screen repair, key cutting, pipe cutting and threading, computer color matching for paint, watch battery replacement, lock rekeying, copies and send faxes.
The store also sells Dubuque-made Higley cleaning supplies to both residential and commercial customers.
Over the years, the local hardware store business has grown and changed and explanded considerably.
In 1997, the store added computer paint color matching and record keeping, in 2003, the building to the north was added, which allowed an expansion of rental equipment and more room for all departments.
In 2008, the Lampes also expanded to the west, turning the old backroom into retail space. The entire store was also remodeled at the time, greatly increasing shelf space. A variety of new stock was added and expanded in many departments.
In 2016. The store was remodeled again and converted to True Value’s highest standard, “Destination True Value”. At that time another 3,400 new items were added to their inventory.
“Customers expect so many more products and services than they did 26 years ago,” said owner Chris Lampe. “Since we purchased Lampe True Value, we have expanded our retail floor space by 60 percent, product offerings have more than doubled and many new services were added.”
Some customers prefer to communicate their needs electronically, through texts, emails, and by shopping online at Truevalue.com, which now offers the ability to view online the quantity of an item in the store for most merchandise Lampe True Value stocks.
And as well as providing a valued and needed service for the Bellevue community, the store also employs 11 - 13 employees, depending on the season. “Our family has enjoyed living in Bellevue since 1994. It’s a wonderful place to raise a family,” concluded Lampe. “Our loyal customer base has allowed us to thoroughly enjoy serving Bellevue for the last 26 years.”