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.