By Dave Crawley

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Independent hardware stores are on the endangered list as big box stores move in. Hampton Hardware on Route 8 is about to join the list.

Owner Jack Richardson had no intention of running a store when the previous owner, his father-in-law, got sick.

“My mother-in-law and my wife got together and said, you’ve got to take it over,” he recalls. “And it was like ‘The Godfather.’ They made me an offer I could not refuse.”

He grew to love the job, and the people.

“When I started here,” the owner says, “I was 26-years-old, 25. And people were here who were 35 or 40 that I met. Well, they’d be 70 or 90. They’re gone now. Most of them are gone. Most of the new people who come in now have never seen a hardware store.”

Profits went down as chain stores moved in. Hampton Hardware has joined the list of neighborhood hardware stores forced to close.

Jack’s son, Eric Richardson, can’t take on a venture where numbers don’t add up. The property has been sold.

Customer Glenn Frankle says he’s been coming to the shop for 36 years.

“It’s a one-stop shop,” he adds. “So, regardless of what it is that you’re looking for, you can come here and you can find it.”

From cut nails to obscure drill bits, they sell hardware that the big stores don’t carry. They just don’t sell enough of it.

Customer Len Anderson says he worked in the hardware department of a big box store nearby.

“When people would come in and ask for something we didn’t have,” he admits, “I’d say, go down to Hampton Hardware.”

“I’ll be back. I need some brass screws,” a customer says as he leaves the store.

He’d better hurry. Hampton Hardware closes its doors March 30.

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