(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2012)
Ninety years ago, when James Michael Curley was mayor, shoppers could walk into Hamilton Hardware on Bowdoin Street, pick up some screws or tools and get some of the friendliest service in town. Now, almost a century later, the store is still in the same location and is still providing residents the same service.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino joined owners Paul O’Brien and his brother, Mark, on Saturday to celebrate the store’s 90th anniversay and highlight the importance of locally owned businesses.
“It’s the personal touch that really makes the difference, and that’s what separates out local businesses,” Menino said. “[Hamilton Hardware] is an anchor business for this community.''
Originally opened by Phil Rosen in 1922, the store was purchased by the O’Brien family in 1979 and has been run by the brothers since. Generations of O’Briens hail from the area.
“My brother and I were born and bred here,” said Mark O’Brien, who started working in the store when he was 9. “You get to know your clientele and they get to know you.”
That one-on-one service and attention to detail is one of the many things that have allowed the shop to stay open all these years, fighting against the sometimes cheaper, “big box stores”.
“Retail is a lot of long hours and it’s not easy, but you have to enjoy what you do. When they [customers] see that you are fair and honest they’ll come back,” said O’Brien. “But they say the first 90 years are they hardest.”
To celebrate the success of the store, the O’Briens held a barbeque and party Saturday, complete with ribs and burgers, to welcome the community into a store that has helped out a few residents on projects and home-improvement problems.
“They’re always there, if you need it they have it,” said Dr. Ronald Bagley, 72, a local resident. “They’ve bailed me out many times.”
Although prices may be cheaper over at South Bay Plaza, Bagley said, it's really the human touch that makes the difference and has made Hamilton Hardware his store for the past 34-years.
“Some things you can get cheaper at other places but the best value is in the good will and the support for the community, not a few pennies here and there,” said Bagley.