An alert “06880” reader who wishes to remain anonymous writes:

I just came from Crossroads Hardware, where I enriched their coffers by buying a $1.49 light bulb.

As I checked out, AJ Izzo — the store’s major domo — asked if I liked tomatoes.

“Of course,” I said.

He dug into a large shopping bag, then filled a smaller brown paper bag with 6 fresh garden-grown tomatoes just given to him by a customer.

A simple, almost trivial story — but a touching reminder of the generosity and thoughtfulness of homegrown store owners from our not-too-recent past, who treated every customer as family.

While there, I forgot to purchase a 19-cent washer. I look forward to my next visit.

Maybe AJ will be giving away some basil or olive oil.

The actual tomatoes, given away at Crossroads Hardware.

The actual tomatoes, given away at Crossroads Hardware.

12 responses to “Homegrown

  1. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    I miss the independent bookstores! Too hard to compete with the Amazon, Chapters, Barnes & Noble bunch. In Vancouver, we had a great bookstore, Duthie Books, which had to shut down in 2010 after 52 years in business.
    As a student in the ’80’s, I wanted to buy the expensive “Art of Maurice Sendak” and quietly mentioned that libraries pay far less for such books.
    Low and behold, the Duthie Books manager agreed, and kindly sold me the book for quite a bit less than asked!
    I still have that lovely book, and am reminded of small business generosity.

  2. This hardware store is one of those old fashioned stores that barely exist in Westport now. First, they always have what I need. They know what to do with stuff I don’t understand. But way beyond that, they are just plain good people and this town could use a few more like them. I am going for my tomatoes this minute!

  3. I now live in San Jose, CA, but graduated from Staples H.S. in 1963. Here I go to an optometrist who gives the fruits and veggies of his home garden out to his patients. It’s a wonderful sort of bond and good for business, I’m sure.

  4. Crossroads Hardware is a town jewel that (along with other “still 100% local” businesses) reminds me that our small town character (and in the case of AJ, characters) is alive and well, and certainly worth working hard to preserve. I don’t go a week without stopping in and having a chat with AJ or Jimmy Izzo.

  5. I was just in Crossroads Hardware 2 days ago, looking to replace for a long screw and cap which fell off of my small roll-up beach table. The owner (or clerk) spent 20 minutes trying to do a make-shift fix since he didn’t have the exact parts. When I asked him “how much,” he told me not to worry about it. “No charge.”Just think of us whenever you need to buy something.
    I love that place!

  6. Crossroads Hardware is the BEST!!!! AJ and the gang also spoil dogs!!!!

  7. Sharon Paulsen

    I’ve always loved going to Crossroads!! Such a feel-good place, with exceptional service (that nowadays seems like a novelty, rather than the norm).

    Great share Dan!

  8. I remember Crossroads Hardware having small cans of latex enamel in many colors – long after other stores no longer had any. They even had orange enamel which I needed for some reason. In general, I think people who work in hardware stores and the proprietors are consistently the friendliest of merchants. I remember Welch’s Hardware on Main St. when I was a kid. Mr. Welch often fixed flat tires on my bicycle. And there was Hartman’s Hardware and the Greenberg family owned The Westport Hardware where I once worked. People in hardware stores are STILL the most friendly. I have never been in a mean hardware store. Even the people in WalMart hardware sections – if you can find them – are fun to talk with.

  9. Great story. If we all commit to going to the local stores and restaurants-they will make it here. I personally dislike any of the large hardware stores. No service to big and places like Crossroads always find a way to help.

    Great story!!

  10. AJ Izzo and his family are part of the treasures of Westport! I feel privileged to know him. He gave my son a job in high school and still proudly displays a photo of his Marine Platoon from Iraq. Thank you for posting this wonderful story about AJ sharing his tomatoes and his generous soul.

  11. We are so fortunate to have AJ and staff nearby–always helpful with any purchase. Love the “local feeling!”