Dec 14, 2011 Amanda Wada Uncategorized
“It was a time when New York had a small town feel to it,” Bob Shepard said about Fayetteville in the 1960s. At the top of the hill and the center of town, the Shepard’s Home Fair served the community’s home improvement needs.
Shepard’s father, Robert Sr.,76, passed away Nov. 27 in Florida, where he spent the later years of his life. He is survived by his children, Cindy Shepard Johnson of Sarasota, Robert G. Shepard, Jr., and his wife Bonnie of St. Petersburg, Kelley N. Shepard of Carthage, Amy Shepard Sulivan and her husband Edward of West Springfield, MA, Bradley R. Shepard of Syracuse, James M. Shepard and his partner Mark of St. Petersburg, and Michael A. Shepard of St. Petersburg. He had nine grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.
Born and raised in Syracuse, Shepard’s father was a glazier, who taught his son the profession. As an apprentice glazier, Shepard learned to cut, install, and replace glass and tile.
“The original goal was to open up an outlet for Shepard Glass and Tile in Fayetteville,” Shepard’s son said. “Dad wasn’t much for tile. He was more interested in glass work and hardware and home improvement.”
Together with Eric Olson, who “was into the paint and wallpaper,” according to Shepard, Shepard Sr. formed the Fayetteville Home Fair, which originally focused on bathroom improvement supplies.
“That’s where they stumbled onto, ‘Maybe we should do more than just bathrooms. We should have it do the whole home,’” Shepard said. “Dad kind of saw that people would need one stop for all of their home improvement needs. If people wanted to go to one place to get the screws they needed to put something up as well as the fertilizer to make their yard greener, or they wanted to get the paint for the new den they were painting, they wanted this one location — kind of like a small town version of Lowe’s.”
“He just saw the need,” Shepard said. “He and Eric [Olson] worked in that direction. Eric eventually got out of the business, he was going to shut down the paint and wallpaper section, but Dad ended up buying it from him because, again, it just fit with what he saw that he needed across the board, which was one place to take care of all your home improvement needs.”
The Fayetteville Home Fair served more than the community’s home improvement needs. It also offered opportunity for many of the town’s younger generation.
“It was a popular place for high school kids to get jobs,” Shepard said. “Dad always hired kids, and of course those days in New York State you could only work three of four days a week when you were still in school.”
Shepard himself also worked at the Home Fair, and has fond memories of his days in the store with his father.
“My fondest memory, probably, is the smell of paint… because of course like any paint shop we did custom paint colors and the smell that paint had. When I was finally old enough my dad would allow me to mix paint for colors,” Shepard said.
“The smell of fertilizer bags,” he continued. “There used to be a giant shed that held all the fertilizer that he sold — cause he sold Scott fertilizer and Ortho products — and the smell of the fertilizer meant springtime. It meant that the snow was gone, ski season was over, and it was time to green up everything around you.”
Every day Shepard Sr. had lunch with his friends at Hullers, Shepard said. Sometimes, he would bring his son along.
“For me it was a sign of being grown up, that I could go to lunch with Dad at Hullers,” Shepard said.
Shepard still comes home every other year for the holidays, and makes sure to have lunch at Hullers Restaurant. “Every time we come back I go to Hullers,” Shepard said. “Maybe it’s the memories that make it taste so good.”
But this year with the passing of his father, “it’ll be a tough sandwich,” he said.
A memorial service for Robert Shepard is set for 1 p.m. Jan. 7 at the Renaissance Vinoy in St. Petersburg. In lieu of flowers, remembrances in Shepard’s name can be sent to either the Humane Society, 3040 State Road 590, Clearwater, FL 33759 (or visit them online) or the Rays Baseball Foundation — Community Fund Program, One Tropicana Drive, St. Petersburg, FL 33705 (or online, here).