Even before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, retail began establishing its roots in the U.S.
Impressively, some of those early businesses are still in operation, having survived by evolving for more than two centuries.
The July issue of Hardware Retailing magazine highlights two family-owned operations that have stood the test of time: Cowls Building Supply, which started in 1741 in Amherst, Massachusetts, and Tinsman Bros. Inc., which opened in 1785 in Lumberville, Pennsylvania.
Though not quite as old, many other independent home improvement retail businesses are still operating after more than a century. Read the stories below to learn about their histories, hardships and the resilience that has kept them going to this day.
- Clarks Ace Hardware
- Ellicott City, Maryland — Opened in 1845
- Maze Lumber
- Peru, Illinois — Opened in 1848
- Placerville Hardware
- Placerville, California — Opened in 1850
- Trilling Hardware
- Sheboygan, Wisconsin — Opened in 1850
- Henne Hardware
- New Braunfels, Texas — Opened in 1857
- Branneky True Value Hardware
- Bridgeton, Missouri — Opened in 1857
- W.S. Jenks & Son
- Washington, D.C. — Opened in 1866
- Weakley-Watson Hardware
- Brownwood, Texas — Opened in 1876
- Joughin Hardware
- Painesville, Ohio — Opened in 1877
- Wilhelm’s Hardware
- Myerstown, Pennsylvania — Opened in 1882
- Garber Hardware
- New York City — Opened in 1884
- Ganahl Lumber
- Anaheim, California — Opened in 1884
- Phillips Hardware
- Waterford, New York — Opened in 1886
- Kelloggs & Lawrence
- Katonah, New York — Opened in 1887
- Akron Lumber Co.
- Akron, Iowa — Opened in 1892
- Wankel’s Hardware
- New York City — Opened in 1896
- Bliffert Lumber & Hardware
- Milwaukee — Opened in 1904
- Wangler Hardware
- Fort Recovery, Ohio — Opened in 1916
If you believe your business should be included in this list of oldest independent hardware stores, home centers and lumberyards, please contact Hardware Retailing profiles editor Renee Changnon at email@example.com.