Standing beneath a "Liquidation Sale" sign, Earl F. Rebman Jr., 68, appeared to lose his composure for a moment Monday when talking about the closing.

Choking ever so slightly, Rebman rhetorically asked, "If not now, when?"

The business was established as a candy business in 1909. Rebman's father, Earl F. Rebman Sr., operated as many as three stores around West King and Water streets in Lancaster city. As the business grew, Rebman Sr. opened a store at 800 S. Queen St. as a wholesale business in 1949 and the Columbia Avenue store in 1984.

The 32,000-square-foot Queen Street store closed last year, and the closing of the Columbia Avenue store marks the second and final liquidation sale for Rebman in the past 14 months.

"I'm getting over it," Rebman said. "I've had four months to think about this thing here, and I'm just building into it."

The party supply business sold everything from pinball machines and pool tables to paper plates, plastic cups, school supplies, toys, candles, trains and wedding and funeral items.

Rebman said a shift in the retail landscape made it difficult to survive. Specialty holiday items and costumes that brought customers to Rebman's now are sharply discounted by big retailers like Wal-Mart and are available at most drug stores.

Only four workers will be affected by the closing, Rebman said.

The closing will not be the end of business for the Rebman family as Rebman's sons, Patrick and Peter, have incorporated an entirely new business called Rebman Brothers.

The new company will focus on Rebman store's strengths in the family gaming/pool table and flag and flagpole businesses.

The brothers also will operate the company's carnival supply business for at least one more season from the old store at 800 S. Queen St.

"It's not the end of the world, but it is the end of the original company," Earl Rebman said. "They've both been here all their lives; they know what they're doing."

Earl Rebman said the company received a 30-day liquidation license and plans to be out of business as quickly as possible.

Items are currently reduced 20 percent to 50 percent and will be reduced on a graduated basis as the license's final day approaches.

"We'd like to get this thing straightened out in the next month or month and a half at the longest," Rebman said.

The Rebmans are anxious to end the old business and launch the new one. Within the new business, Pete Rebman will continue his position as corporate treasurer and focus on sales while Patrick's duties include sales and service.

Earl Rebman said an Easter candy business, which dates back to 1909, also could survive in some fashion.

The brothers hope to negotiate a lease on a portion of the 14,000-square-foot Columbia Avenue property.

"Our hope is to stay here; we're known for being out here, and it's a good traffic area," Peter Rebman said.

He said the new businesses could retain about one-third of the space at the Columbia Avenue location, which would be split between a 3,000- to 4,000-square-foot family game room store and a 1,000-square-foot flag store.

"If we can't get a lease on the Columbia Avenue store, there's a good chance we'll end up splitting into two separate locations," Peter Rebman said.

Even while his sons enter new careers and his company dissolves, retirement is not likely for Earl Rebman, who promised to move on to something new.

He would not, however, rule out the possibility of assisting his sons' new endeavors.

"These guys have threatened to bring me back to help them a little bit. You never know," Earl Rebman said.

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