Serving the community since 1970

Frank Russell closes after nearly 85 years

Shafter lost another icon this week when Frank Russell, Inc. closed its doors on Tuesday. Opened in 1939, the shop has been serving the community, meeting fabricating and steel needs for almost 85 years.

Owner and operator Andy Russell said that it was time to do it, and said that he will miss his loyal customers. "It was a family decision. I just decided that it was the right time. I am 73 years old and am ready to spend more time with family."

Andy's father, Frank Russell, moved to Shafter in 1935 with $228 to his name. He began working for Al Nikkel at Nikkel Ironworks. In 1936, a partnership was formed between him and Bill Isaacs. The Isaacs and Russell shop was located where the Shafter Depot Museum stands today

Russell and Isaacs repaired potato diggers and other implements for local farmers. The partnership was dissolved in 1939, and Frank bought property and constructed a new shop downtown. The original shop now houses the retail agricultural and industrial hardware store.

Over the years, they have sold Goodyear tires, Oliver Tractors, potato planters, Russell Rolovators and Russell cotton trailers, among other items.

Frank was dedicated to serving the community, and not just in his place of business. Russell also was police commissioner for a time and served on the City Council.

Andy Russell began managing the store in 1974 and, with his son Cody, have continued to build the company into a Shafter institution.

Russell grew up here and said that he just loves its people. "It is a community filled with wonderful people," he said. "My son graduated from Shafter High in 1997 before he headed off to Cal Poly [San Luis Obispo] to get his degree. Shafter is just a wonderful place to live."

Russell said that the town has been so supportive and thanks them for so many years of enjoyment. Asked what has changed during his time in the business, Russell said, "Well, of course, there is more competition, and you have Amazon and the other online shops that you have to contend with. It is a lot different than it was 20 years ago."

Russell said that it is unclear at the moment what exactly is going to happen to the property. "I assume it is going to be sold, but we haven't worked that out yet."


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