Friday Flashback #76

Today, Westporters love and appreciate 2 great hardware stores. Crossroads Ace is next to Coffee An’ on Main Street heading out of town. Westport Hardware is on the Post Road, opposite Fresh Market.

In the 1960s and ’70s, 2 hardware stores sat just a few feet from each other on the “main” part of Main Street, in the heart of downtown. (A 3rd — Western  Auto — was not far away. Today it’s Five Guys.)

Welch’s was closest to the Post Road. It had sawdust on the floor.

Westport Hardware was bigger:

(Photo courtesy of Bruce Jones)

By the mid-1970s, it had become a furniture store. One winter afternoon, it burned to the ground.

Later, an odd vertical “mall” took its place. But Westporters did not want to go up and down, and the mix of small shops never took off.

It was gutted, and a new tenant took its place.

Today, the building weathers the ups and downs — literally and figuratively — of Main Street.

It’s the Gap.

18 responses to “Friday Flashback #76

  1. Also, at the same time, there was Hartman’s Hardware on the other side of Main Street.

  2. Tom Duquette, Staples '75

    Don’t forget Jerry’s Hardware in Saugatuck owned and operated by my father and uncle from the early 60’s to the mid 80’s in Bridge Square. It’s now a Duncan Donuts.

  3. Welch’s was the go-to place for this creative ‘maker’ kid in the Sixties. Our family had an account there. They knew us by face. I’d ride my bike into town, walk in, pick up some light bulbs or batteries or little ceramic knife switches out of the wooden bins for some experimental project, and take them to the counter, where they’d just add up the totals and bid me away. No signature, no details, just a “Got what you wanted?” They knew their customers. I assume my parents got the bill; never thought about it. Small town, main street America, long gone.

  4. At Welch’s Hardware in the early 1940’s Mr. Welch, who looked like someone in a Norman Rockwell painting, fixed flat tires on my bicycle. I would wheel my bike right into the narrow store, Mr. Welch would turn it upside down, peel the tire off the rim, pull out the inner tube, glue a patch on it and put it all back together. He would charge me a dime or sometimes nothing. A lot of stores came and went but I will always remember Welch’s.

  5. Nancy Powers Conklin

    I remember Christmas shopping at Welch’s Hardware. My cousin and I went over to help my grandmother decorate for Christmas. She told us to go to Welch’s and get some tree lights with the money she gave us. She lived in an apt. above Main Street near Country Gal. Off we went up the street to Welch’s. The employees were so helpful and nice to us, even though we were young, whipper snappers. It was a pleasant experience each and every time we went into the store.

  6. I was across the street when the building burned down. It was Arson and I believe the third try at doing it. Interesting story that is probably in the Westport News archives.

  7. Mike: I’m happy to report that at Elvira’s (by Old Mill Beach) they operate the same way today with kids/families from the neighborhood. No need to sign anything; they just tally it up and put it on your account.

  8. i vaguely recall Westport Hardware still being on Main St in 1980-82 before they moved to Post Rd

    also Torno Lumber on Post Rd had decent hardware store offerings, before they did the (infuriating) split to the other side of the Citgo station

  9. Mickey Herbst

    I remember watching that fire. Story was that there was oil all over the basement. It burned like a candle, and melted a light pole across the street.

  10. Does anyone remember Lloyds Lumber? pretty sure it was on the corner of Post road and North Maple…I spent a lot of time there as a kid with my dad, when my parents were building our house.

    • Yep – that’s exactly where it was. It later became Blockbuster, until that business model proved irrelevant. There’s a tall men’s shop there now, which is not exactly a place I need to shop.

  11. Mary M Maynard

    I’ll debate the sawdust on the floor of Welche’s Hardware. They used to lend my kids money for the Minnybus when they got stranded by their stressed-out mother. mmm

  12. Bonnie Bradley

    I don’t remember sawdust on the floor of Welch’s either. But do remember the narrow boards of the unfinished wood floor and that the store was dim inside. My grandmother Bradley would give me $5 to go to Welch’s to buy stocking presents for my grandfather and father at Christmas. I rode the bus from Owenoke to town (10 cents) and enjoyed picking out little hardware things. I was nine or 10 then.

  13. John F. (J-period) Wandres

    In my junior year at Staples (1952) I applied for a job at Westport Hardware. Mr. Greenberg was very kind and solicitous, but was very insistent that I listen, really listen to what the customer wanted . . . and then try to upsell the customer to the next more (whatever: deluxe, expensive, comprehensive) item in that category. It wasn’t that I was against the idea of upsetting. I just didn’t know what the devil he was talking about. All I wanted was an after-school job.

  14. Also, in the 60’s, there was a mom and pop hardware store in the present Compo shopping center…can’t recall mop or pop’s name, but the little store was approximately where there’s now a salon.

  15. Michael Calise

    Sears Roebuck & Co.

  16. John F. (J-period) Wandres

    Thank you, you miserable Auto-Correct:
    I wasn’t against “up-selling,” not “upsetting” the customer. But I probably did that a few times. O-Well.

  17. Patricia Porio

    Westport Hardware is still a go-to place. Courteous, knowledgeable service is a hallmark.
    It is a family business too!
    On the Post Road just up from, “Dunkin’ Donuts”.