The nature of the business has changed to a degree, but the name has never wavered.
For 50 years, Gnann’s Fix-It Shop has been an Effingham County business mainstay. Though its days of repairing appliances large and small are largely in the past, it still carries the name its founder, the late C. Bowers Gnann Jr., gave it. The store will celebrate its 50th anniversary this weekend.
“He started it because he was a tinkerer,” said son Clarence Gnann, who with his brother Charles runs the store.
His dad also farmed, but his heart was in mechanical stuff, Clarence said.
The elder Gnann moved to Springfield in 1964 and rented a space next to Rahn’s Feed and Seed.
“He farmed in the morning, and went to Springfield in the afternoon to run the shop,” Clarence said.
At his store, Gnann fixed all kinds of appliances — “irons, toasters, lamps,” his son said, “anything that was broken.”
His father also repaired washers and dryers and in 1967, he built a new store and got into the retail end, carrying chainsaws and lawn mowers. By the 1970s, he turned his attention full-time to the store.
Through the years, the Gnanns have seen generations of customers come through their doors. While their grandparents or parents may have wanted an appliance mended, the current generation now comes in looking to buy lawn equipment or an all-terrain vehicle.
“It makes us proud,” Clarence said.
The shop does service the merchandise it sells, and Clarence said the store is competitive with larger outlets.
“There’s not as many places like this still around,” he said. “There are a lot of places that sell this equipment, but not as many places that repair it. We have in-house service. If a customer buys a piece of equipment, they can come back if they have a issue.”
Though the store sells year-round, there are items that are more popular, depending on the time of the year.
“Grass-growing season is our busy time,” Clarence said.
ATVs are a big mover during the fall, and the store carries Stihl-brand hand-held lawn equipment, along with its eXmark and Snapper mowers and Arctic Cat ATVs. Clarence added they sell “nothing in a box,” as their implements are gassed up and ready to go. They also have parts for most lawn mower makes.
Clarence started working in the store when he was in fifth grade. “I grew up in it,” he said.
He said people wonder how he and his brother can work side-by-side in a business and still get along. To the Gnanns, it’s fairly simple. While Clarence runs the front end of the store, Charlie has the service and repair end.
“We divide up the responsibilities,” Clarence said.
To commemorate their golden anniversary, the Gnanns are having a two-day event, with a drawing for three pieces of equipment. There also will be free hot dogs and Cokes on Saturday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., with the help of the Springfield Merchants Association.
As for the future, the Gnanns plan to be in business for a while.
“I’ve always liked doing it,” Clarence said. “I still enjoy the work.”