Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

September 7, 2013

Local hardware store closes doors after 104 years in business

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — More than 100 years of business ended Friday with people making their last purchases at a local hardware store.

Virginia Hardware on North Walker Street had been open for 104 years, said owner Ron Hart, who had the store for the last 13 years. At one time, the store employed five people.

“This was one of the oldest hardware stores in southern West Virginia,” he said.

Customers coming to the store Friday browsed the shelves and picked up last day merchandise. Hart called some customers by name as they came up to the cash register with filled baskets of spray paint, cleaning solution, a broom head, hardware such as door hinges and other items. The small parking lot outside the doors was full. More people entered the store while others were departing with their purchases.

“I haven’t been empty all day,” Hart said as he rang up another sale. “Today is the last day.”

Hart said he made the decision last May to close mainly due to a lack of business. He added he would not blame competition from “big box” store chains for closing Virginia Hardware. There are other factors to consider.

“The demographics of the community are changing,” he said. “There’s the economy and a declining population.”

Another factor is competiton from the Internet and a change in how often people do home improvement work on their own, Hart added.

“Kids don’t do a lot of repairs these days,” he said.

Shoppers might find items for a little less money on the Internet, but they miss out on getting personal service, Hart stated.

“I want to thank our customers for all the years they came,” he said. “And support your local businesses while they are still here.”