Though Heights Hardware prevailed in the face of online and big-box store competitors and remains a trusted name in the community, co-owner Andy Gathy isn't positive how the company stayed around for 101 years.
"I guess we're able to give people what they want, give people what they need," Gathy said. "We're surrounded by all these old buildings, so we survive with a lot of accounts, regular customers and house accounts."
But the more Gathy thinks about it, Heights Hardware's staying power in 2012 is no different than the reemergence of retro clothing and art. Shopping at old, local shops on Coventry Road and elsewhere is as cool as it ever was, he said.
"People are finally coming around to realizing that the way it used to be is the way they like it," he said, "and it's not just in hardware. They'd rather go the boutique across the street instead of Target."
His father, Tom Gathy, bought the store in 1979 from a family member. Two years later, the business became an Ace Hardware affiliate.
Nowadays, Heights Hardware is a go-to resource for people who need keys, plumbing parts and window and screen repair. The business also is dealer of Benjamin Moore Paints.
Andy said the business is slowly transitioning into his hands, though his father still handles "the things I don't feel like doing like paying the bills." Neither seems too concerned with the housing industry or the future of the business despite other shops in the city closing in recent years.
"People realize that we know what we're talking about," Andy said. "You can call and still get a hold of somebody.
"The way business is going now, we're not going anywhere. We seem to be doing really well."