NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A family-run hardware store was in business before the Manhattan Bridge and both the Chrysler and Empire State buildings were constructed.
Somehow, they may have even helped build them.
Today, that extended family is still helping others build and fix up New York. CBS2’s Alex Denis explains how they’ve managed to keep their shop open for more than 100 years.
Inside Garber Hardware in the West Village, signs that are more than a century old are still hung up. They’ve been on display since the store first opened.
“We traced the business back to 1884. It was most likely a push cart,” co-owner Nathaniel Garber Schoen said.
But now, 135 years later, it’s young blood that’s running the show, competing against internet monsters like Amazon.
“People like hardware stores. I think that there is an experience of being in a hardware store certainly you can’t replicate online,” Garber Schoen said.
Garber Schoen and his cousin, Scott Schoen, are the fifth generation to run the store.
“I am amazed every day, to be honest, especially with the nature of New York being ever changing,” Scott Schoen said.
One picture CBS2’s Denis saw was taken in 1908 in front of the first Garber Hardware at the corner of Horatio Street and Eighth avenue. Eventually, the business moved to Greenwich Street in 2013 and then expanded to a second location in Chelsea.
The family attributes their success to knowing exactly what their customers need.
In their Chelsea shop, special keys are made since most area apartments require a unique kind. In their West Village location, the family has plenty of plumbing supplies because buildings there are older.
“Every neighborhood has things that it needs specific to that neighborhood,” Garber Schoen said.
If you ask Garber Hardware’s customers, the employees’ interactions also help seal the deal.
“It’s the customer services. It’s the contact, the one-on-one,” Anthony Valentino said.
“Everyone always knows what they are talking about,” Jessica Dean Schiffer added.
Mimi Vangolsen has been a customer for 45 years and said she wouldn’t go anywhere else.
“They know just where to send you, aisle 2, aisle 3, aisle 4, and they know everything,” Vangolsen said.
Five generations of one family, helping to build New York City and keep it ticking.
Both of the cousins’ fathers still work at the store least one day a week. The cousins hope to run the business for the foreseeable future, but said they would like one of their nieces or nephews to take over once they’re done.