There is nothing like putting roots down in a new place to help you develop deep, long-lasting commitments to a community. That’s certainly what happened for Gary and Mary Vogt when they opened Quincy’s American Valley Hardware in 1982.
“We were living and working in the Bay Area and thought how ideal it would be to retire someday and open up a hardware store,” chuckled Gary, who is also a 1965 Quincy Junior-Senior High School graduate.
With a dream like that, why wait? The Vogts bought a Coast to Coast Hardware franchise, which became the Ace store so familiar to the community now.
“We thought it would be relaxing, so we sold our home and our British 1973 Jensen-Healey and came up here,” he added. “Well! Things have worked out a bit differently.”
A big change and a big chance
Mary laughs at those past thoughts of working their way into retirement and echoes her husband’s remarks with an air of how-hard-could-it-be?
“Since the day we opened, we’ve had a lot of old timers come in,” she said. “I learned so much from our customers that first year! We were office people with PG&E. We’d never owned a small business. But we’d completed some do-it-yourself projects on our house. Here, we have yet to hang out a gone-fishing sign!”
Belonging to a community Over the years, the Vogts have been involved in many community organizations and supported various causes. They brought up their daughters Amelia, the eldest, and the twins Sarah and Catherine here, all of whom graduated from QJSHS, too.
Raising a family in Plumas County has been a big benefit, they agree. It’s also brought them into contact with people making a difference locally, like booster clubs, senior or children’s programs, local schools and others.
And then there’s the blessed Quincy Fire Department, whom they met after they bought their Jensen-Healey back (that’s a story for another day).
“Fire Chief Andy Anderson’s crew had to come up and put out an electrical fire in the driveway of our home one time,” Gary recalled.
Mary chimed in, “And there’s the time Andy’s crew came and stayed all night at our store using squeegees to keep the flood waters out in 1997. Everyone has been so good to us.”
Gratitude to spare
The Vogts have gratitude to spare and they show it when they devote the last 10 shopping days before Christmas to a special fundraising drive of their own.
For the last five years, five percent of their gross sales from Dec. 15 through 24 have been donated to 10 local nonprofits. The holiday campaign raises about $3,000 each season that is split among the organizations.
Mary draws a name for one of the nonprofits to benefit each day. Customers follow the donation drive, too, sometimes choosing to shop on the day that supports their favorite cause.
The Saturday before Christmas is usually a great shopping day to be drawn for and the list generally includes:
– Boy Scouts of America
– Community Action Network (CAN)
– Girl Scouts of America
– Plumas Charter School
– Plumas Community Hospice
– Plumas County Veterans Services
– Quincy Elementary Parents PCO
– Quincy Fire Department
– QJSHS Boosters
– Quincy Little League
“There are so many worthy organizations out there,” Mary said, explaining that she has shared details about American Valley Hardware’s holiday campaign with other “Do It Best” storeowners in the company and they have been receptive to sponsoring similar efforts.
Supporting vets and others
“These groups are special to us and we do this to reaffirm all the good things they are doing,” Mary added. “We hear a lot of responses back from the volunteers. It feels good and it’s what the holidays are for.”
Gary agreed and said the fundraising effort is a positive project that means a lot to the Vogt family. For example, daughter Catherine was a captain in the U.S. Army for a time.
“As a family of a veteran,” he said, “you realize how much they give to their country and to all of us.”
That appreciation means a lot to the organizations who receive the Vogt’s support.
Kathryn Fisher, Veterans Van Coordinator with the Plumas County Veterans Services Office, works for VSO Officer Shawn Bondon. Fisher extended sincere thanks for the Vogts’ recent donation to programs for vets.
“Donations of time and money are always huge for us,” she said. “There are so many ways we can help local veterans, such as supporting our outreach dinners to educate the community about free services and benefits, or helping our volunteer drivers who transport vets to their V.A. doctor’s appointments in Reno.”
August opportunity to help vets
Fisher and Bondon are currently working with Scott Quade with the county and a team to organize the 2020 Plumas County Veterans Stand Down. The event is planned for August and may expand from one day to two.
“At present, we are looking for people to help with the Stand Down. That’s our next big project,” she explained. “A single day just wasn’t enough to really offer services to those who needed it last year.”
The VSO team and its coordination partners appreciate any support they receive from the community.
“For the Stand Down, we will need volunteers and funds because everything we offer is donated and comes out of private pockets,” Fisher said. “We really receive almost no support from the Veterans Administration for that, so we welcome involvement from all of the communities in Plumas County. Thank you.”
Help support the 2020 Plumas County Veterans Stand Down
Local businesses, individuals and other organizations are welcome to lend a hand and help support the 2020 Plumas County Veterans Stand Down planned for August.
The organizing committee needs exhibitors and people from all walks of life who can offer services of any kind to veterans.
Contact: Scott Quade at 283-6424 [email protected]