The 99th birthday of Cole Hardware founder Dave Karp was a reason for the Karp family and store staff to be grateful this year — and his Oct. 25 death was the loss of the company’s figurehead.
Even as he aged, Dave Karp made a tradition of visiting each of his stores on his birthday to “greet the customers and the workers, and dispense what he called ‘hardware wisdom,'” according to an article from SFGate, a news website owned by the San Francisco Chronicle.
His son Rick Karp now leads Cole Hardware as company president.
“Up until the very end, he was passionate about the many great people we have on our staff, their accomplishments, and, of course, our terrific customers,” Rick Karp wrote in a company newsletter. Rick Karp’s children Adrianna and David are also active in the family business.
Dave Karp was born and raised in San Francisco, and he bought Cole Street Hardware in 1961. After that purchase, “his life and his love became all things Cole Hardware,” Rick Karp says. He was known for his friendliness, a card trick he used for entertaining people he met and his successful business, which grew to five stores before he died. His motto for running the business was “There Are No Strangers Here, Just Friends We Haven’t Met!”
Dave Karp loved his family and helping new immigrants, who he could empathize with as the son of poor immigrants, Rick Karp says.
“I’m convinced my father’s secret to longevity was to stay involved, laugh, be selfless, authentic, and find the good in everything and everybody. And finally, always do good deeds and say something heartfelt and nice to everyone you meet,” Rick Karp says.