After 51 years in business, Melbys saying good-bye

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Bill Hoffenbacker and Steve Melby at Melby's Home Interiors on Nucleus Avenue. The Melby's name is being retired and Hoffenbacker will start a new store on U.S. Highway 2.

Melby’s Home Interiors will soon be no more. Steve and Debbie Melby have announced their retirement and will close the shop on Nucleus Avenue.

“It’s not necessarily what we wanted to do,” Steve said last week. An arson fire destroyed the business and its showroom on U.S. Highway 2 in September 2015. No one was ever charged. Shortly thereafter, they moved the business to the former First Citizens Bank on Nucleus Avenue, owned by Mick Ruis.

Steve said they had plans drawn up for a new store, but without any heirs to the business, the debt, even with insurance funds, meant they would have had to work another 20 years.

So Oct. 31 is their last day. But the business will remain, under a different name.

Bill Hoffebacker, a salesman at the store, will start anew on U.S. Highway 2 near the big steel eagle just south of the Blue Moon as Hoffenbacker’s Discount Floors and More.

Steve’s father, Lawrence, started the business 51 years ago and Steve has been in the business 41 years. Lawrence started his shop in what is now a Thrift Store across from Smith’s Food and drug on Nucleus.

Over the years it changed locations, but grew into a Flathead Valley institution.

“Just go to Melby’s!” had been the slogan for decades.

Steve grew up in Columbia Falls and played baseball, basketball and football in the late 1970s. The family has always been a big supporter of Columbia Falls sports and schools.

The business has seen its ups and downs, with 2008 being the roughest, but Steve said he never had to lay off any staff and the valley supported them, even in the Great Recession. Since then, business has really picked up and they’re doing well, which makes retirement bittersweet.

“I just want to thank everyone,” Steve said. “They made it an unbelievable 51 years.”

Steve won’t entirely leave the business. He said he plans on doing some consulting work and helping Hoffenbacker with his store.

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