Originally from Idaho, V&S Variety co-owner Ray Hansen has lived in Ely longer than anywhere else.

“My wife and I run the store,” Hansen said.

Hansen and his wife have done so for the last 22 years. Technically speaking, the operation is a cooperative, owned by a local buying group and True Value. Hansen will now retire and lease the building to Shopko, a Wisconsin retail chain.

“We knew they were looking in different small towns,” Hansen said. “So we inquired with them. I think it will be a good fit for the town.”

Hansen turns the building over in July after liquidating his merchandise. The clearance sale started April 1. He plans to stay in Ely, where his son and five grandchildren live.

“Fishing, hunting, spending time with the grandkids,” Hansen said. “There are a lot of things I’ve never done before. Community service doesn’t fit the retail schedule. I want to say thanks, I really appreciate the business. This is an opportunity to serve the community, and it will be good for both of us. By Shopko coming here it doesn’t leave another empty building. The city doesn’t need another one. It’s a problem in all small communities, not just Ely.”