Tuesday, September 01, 2009

hardware-less Burgh

DNJ beat me to posting this, but I found out last week that Bloomfield is losing it's last hardware store. I tried to buy something at Bloomfield Hardware on Friday and saw the sign that it was closing.  I wasn't sure there would be much interest for a post here, but after thinking about it there are some bigger implications.

The last hardware store you ask? I actually remember when Bloomfield had 3 hardware stores. Can anyone name them and identify where they were?

There is a bigger story in all that of course. Hard to not see how the opening of Home Depot in East Liberty contributed to the demise of a main street hardware store but a mile away.  Don't get me wrong, I use Home Depot all the time.  A great thing in lots of ways to have it in the city.  Thus I can't escape being partially at fault for Bloomfield Hardware's closing and I know full well there are costs to big box domination of local retail.  Not a big secret in that.  May be a bigger issue in rural areas than here, but see a paper from some folks at Penn State a few years ago: "Wal-Mart and County-Wide Poverty" in the June 2006 issue of Social Science Quarterly. An earlier verion of their paper available here.

I honestly need to see if I can easily collect the data on the number of hardware stores in the city over the last few decades.  It's down we know, but I bet down by how many could be a surprising number. As I said, Bloomfield alone used to have 3 different hardware stores, all right on Liberty Avenue.  Of course things are changing everywhere and Bloomfield can't escape all of it. It has in fact remained a remarkably stable retail main street despite all the changes everywhere.  If you ignore the gas station, one of the more amazing thing about Bloomfield was that there was virtually no chain presence.   I almost fell over when Dominos first opened up in Liberty Ave. and it has since closed.  Starbucks and Subway are still 'new' to me.. but barring a few exceptions it remains about as chain-free as you can get and still be a viable mainstreet.

That is all half an excuse to show again one of the best economic graphics out there showing the growth of Walmart across the country.  The better version is this original wmv file, but a youtube version is below.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Crazy Mocha a chain these days? Just sayin.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009 3:10:00 PM  
Blogger n'at said...

old hardware stores? doesn't the carnegie retain old phone books for that kind of data mining?

losing the shoe store on liberty really ticked me off. sent me to wagner's.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009 4:08:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

no cheating!

I know a few readers here could do this off the top of their head.. assuming they are not old like me and forgeting names.

Yeah.. Gordon's went to the Waterfront. I went in there one day and they had all these shoes costing several hundred dollars. No wonder they moved out of Bloomfield. I remember before they expanded to the 2nd parcel and even before they expanded into the 2nd floor of their first parcel.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009 4:11:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

I am getting old. I was thinking of the 3 pharmacies: Bloomfield Drug, Lenny's and West Penn Pharmacy (not in the hospital.. where the uniform place is now I think).. but there was a 2nd hardware store.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009 4:19:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Is Grinder's still there? I haven't been up in a while. (That must be a chain, because I used to go to them in Ohio.)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009 4:22:00 PM  
Blogger joe said...

You remember Gordon's when it was in the Hill District?? You are old man.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009 5:18:00 PM  
Blogger illyrias said...

We're also losing the hardware store in Allentown. The owners were sick of having to kick out bad tenants above them and the kids didn't want to carry on the store.

I think the problem is not necessarily that these stores are closing. The old paradigm of passing your profession onto your kids is dead. The problem is no one is stepping up to replace them, and the storefronts remain vacant.

Thursday, September 03, 2009 9:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the owner, David Grenick is a crook. Thats why is didnt last... he's about to go to jail for mortgage fraud.

Friday, November 27, 2009 12:22:00 PM  

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