Our History

History timeline

The building was built as a retail store and outlet depot for J.C. Penney.

Late 1940's & 50's
It was the location of a Sprouse Reitz variety store and the iconic red tiles on the front of the building were installed. 

1960's - 1976
The store became a Hardware store and operated under Coast to Coast, and then Henderson's Hardware

Ray Amick purchases The Miner's Foundry and operates it as a steel fabrication plant. Ray, his wife Georgia, and their three daughters move from Oakland to Nevada City.

Ray retires from steel fabrication and sells The Miner's Foundry to Osborne & Woods 

September 20, 1976
Ray and Georgia Amick purchased Henderson's Hardware and the building. Their oldest daughter, Susan, became the manager. They continued to sell hardware and toys under the Henderson's Hardware name. 

After the first Christmas it was apparent that toys were in demand in the Grass Valley area, and more toys were added to the inventory. 

September 1977
The name was changed from Henderson's Hardware to Foothill Hardware and operated as a full line hardware store including paint, pipe fittings, power tools, hand tools, housewares, gifts, toys and fishing tackle, which was run by Georgia, an expert fisherwoman. 

Various point in the late 1970's and early 1980's 
More room was needed for the expanding toy selection. Fortunately, Ray not only had expertise in steel fabrication, he was a brilliant engineer and was able to design and build a mezzanine. It began as a small mezzanine in the back of the store; which was later expanded a bit further out; and finally one, large expansion took it to its present day configuration. There are some great photos of this project in the slideshow above- it is especially impressive to see the crane he somehow managed to get inside the store to move the huge I beams into place. 

This is the pivotal year that the Amick family decided to change the name and the direction of the business.
 "Foothill Hardware" was changed to "Foothill Mercantile". They also decided to remodel the facade, and discovered that the original red tiles had been covered up with plaster. The tiles were cleaned and refurbished to look as beautiful as they did in the 1940's. 
The shift in direction was because running a hardware store needed a lot more room than was available and there was increased competition. The hardware lines were dropped, and were replaced by gifts, housewares, more toys, and the candy counter was installed- much to the delight of the kids. 

1988 - present day 
Susan bought the store from her parents and has continued to operate it with the help of her sister Dee and long time staff members. Foothill Mercantile has made some changes over the years- we sell fewer kitchen items, have more toys than ever, and we now have this website as a response to the pandemic; but the heart of it remains the same.