Old School: Harney's Hardware

A colleague just mentioned "hardware store," and my mind travelled back in time to a pre-Home Depot era in which hardware stores were scattered across Newton's neighborhoods. There were two in West Newton Square -- Harney's, or Harnett's, and another one whose name escapes me, but whose name I believe began with the letter "R".

I can remember going with my father down to Harney's on sunny Saturday mornings, and the dusty wood floors and dry air that smelled like sawdust, and watching the paint mixers rattle away, as they shaked cans of paint for customers. Places like Harneys faded in the 1980s, as larger stores drew customers away: Grossmans, True Value, Sears, and eventually, Home Depot.

The closest thing Newton has to a real hardware store is the small Swartz True Value Hardware at 353 Watertown Street in the Lake. It has managed to survive despite the presence of the Waltham and Watertown Home Depots. How? Through personal service that the big box stores can't supply. For instance, when I painted my house's exterior last year, I was able to get the paint expert at Swartz right away to answer questions about oil vs. latex, caulking, etc. On the other hand, when I painted our basement playroom, I had to go to Home Depot to get kid's paint, but it was impossible to get human help -- the paint counter was too crowded, and I couldn't see any help in the aisles.


Blogger x4 said...

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7:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was Harney Hardware. There were several other stores in the square, but the other memorable one was Harris Hardware (now Harris Cyclery and across the street from the original location.)
My father and my uncle found Harney Ardware in 1938 and you can see a picture of it on the wall of Blue Ribbon Ribs.


2:12 PM  

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