89-Year-Old Man Continues Running Mercedes Hardware Store

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MERCEDES – A man, 89 years young, is still following his routine of getting up in the morning and heading to work every day.

Robert Eilers and his wife own Borderland Hardware in Mercedes. He loves to tell the story of how he was trying out for a job at Borderland when he got out of the military and the manager approached him.

“When I was up on the ladder, he came and asked me to step down and turn around. He looked at me and said, ‘Okay, you’ll do fine,’” he recalled.

Borderland Mercedes and Borderland Weslaco were at one time owned by one company, but Eilers and a friend bought them out.

“In ’69, he bought the one in Weslaco and I bought the one in Mercedes,” Eilers said.

Both kept the original store name. It has just about everything, more than 40,000 different items and growing.

“It’s quite a challenge nowadays. Face it, we have a lot of competitors out there,” Eilers said.

The business owner will be 90 in May, but he said the way to stay ahead is to always keep learning new things.

“We go to a lot of different shows and seminars and this is where we get to know about a lot of new stuff that’s coming up,” Eilers said.

Some years back, his wife, Loretta, and daughter-in-law brought in houseware and gifts.

His wife also handles the bookkeeping.

“A lot of togetherness,” the couple said.

“And without Ken and Debbie, we couldn’t do it without them,” Loretta Eilers said.

Their son, Ken, and his wife, Debbie, are part of the family business. And Eilers is also proud that for over 60 years, he has also been on the board of the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show.

“I’ve served on practically every committee of the stock show from all the different officers,” he said.

Eilers’ birthday may be approaching, but he isn’t going to slow down any time soon.

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