by Pete Mazzaccaro

We learned last week that The Wyndmoor Supply Company, 907 E. Willow Grove Ave. in Wyndmoor, will soon be closing. The company, which is going out of business after more than 20 years at that location, will be a pretty big loss in Wyndmoor and in the nearby neighborhoods of Chestnut Hill and Cheltenham. Yes, we have one of the best hardware stores on the planet in Kilian’s (I’ll get back to them soon), but it’s always nice to have options.

Neighborhood hardware stores are perhaps one of the most important and probably most overlooked amenities. For anyone who owns a home, having a hardware store in walking distance – for that screwdriver you suddenly need, or a box of nails – is a great thing to have. When that store suddenly closes, you notice.

Glenside Hardware, which occupied a spacious corner building at 127 S. Easton Road, was just such a place. A perfect spot for painting supplies, tools, etc, its closure last summer has left a significant void in the neighborhood. The Home Depot in Cheltenham, a purgatory of long lines and little help, is no substitute.

Now, in our corner of the city’s suburbs, Kilian’s, Holod’s of Lafayette Hill and Oreland Hardware are the only neighborhood options left. Why would hardware stores close up?

Local hardware stores have been suffering for at least the last 15 years as competition from big box chains like Lowes and Home Depot have taken a lot of their business. In the last 10 years or so, co-op arrangements with national brands like Ace and True Value have helped neighborhood shops stay competitive with the big box stores.

But now even the big box stores are being challenged by the ubiquity and ease of Amazon, which can ship anything anywhere for less than any other option. And they’ll ship it to you for free in two days or less. Amazon has hurt retail everywhere and of every size. I often wonder how anyone can compete with a company that offers what they do, and can afford to do so even at perpetual loss.

Local shops still have something to offer. I was recently reminded of this a month ago. I had bought a replacement valve for a water pipe in my basement. Half way through the job, one of the compression ferrules – a small ring that slides over the pipe and allows one to seal a pipe to the valve with a hard turn of a nut instead of solder and a blowtorch – was bent. It would not slip over the pipe. If I couldn’t get another ferrule, I’d have to buy another valve.

I sped to Kilian’s to make sure I was there before its 3 p.m. Sunday closing. I held up the bent ferrule to a young man behind the counter. Within five minutes I was walking out of Kilian’s with two replacements (an extra just in case) that I had paid about 20 cents for.

If we lose our independent hardware stores, we’re in for more than just inconvenience – the level of service and expertise and options cannot be replaced. Could you buy a single ferrule in Lowes or Home Depot? No you couldn’t. And if you could, good luck finding anyone to help you find it on those cluttered shelves.

  • Joe hardware

    The problem is you went to the big box for the valve and were only willing to go to the hardware store for the .40cent purchase. Everyone wants the convenience of that hardware store but are not always willing to support it. Everyone thinks the hardware store is great for an odd nut and bolt, emergency ferrel, or cut key but if that’s all that store sells it will not survive. That’s why small downtown hardware store are going dark. Use it or lose it….

    • Craig Seltzer

      Wyndmoor Supply Company has been serving it’s dedicated customers now for over 61 years. With my deepest regrets we have to close our doors, fully knowing the adverse effect it will cause the community.

      Customer service and location have been the bread and butter for all small business for many years. It is very sad to know that the next generation of homeowners are not aware of how important customer service is. A lower price will never overshadow the personal assistance and advice that your local merchants can provide. When all that is left are the big cold box stores and youtube to teach the consumers how to repair and improve their most important investment, their homes, we all lose. The only winners will be big business and the politicians who forgot about small America and how it was built.

      Thank you to all of our long term customers and friend who supported us for many years, Craig Seltzer, Wyndmoor Supply Co

      • Teyzoo

        Hi Craig, I’m so sorry (and shocked) to hear that you are closing (or may have already)! What a big loss to the community. I found this article when I was googling your store for my mother who was perplexed that she couldn’t get through to the store on the phone just now. My Mom and Al were such big fans of you and your store when they lived in Wyndmoor. I hope whatever comes your way next will make you very happy. –Susan McGarvey

    • PMazz

      I got the valve elsewhere, but I patronize local hardware stores more than big box retailers. I hate the big box stores. Especially Lowes and Home Depot. You couldn’t pay me to shop at home Depot.

  • Susan Mandeville

    Don’t forget Stanley’s True Value on Ridge Ave. in Roxborough. They have everything and more! Very helpful staff too.