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Old-School Hardware Stores and Industrial Suppliers

Feb 4, 2004
Metuchen, NJ, USA
Ladies & Gents:

A recent question by member Adamamil concerned old-school hardware stores and industrial suppilers, the kind that have a wide and deep stocking policy. He wanted to know if there were any left. I made a somewhat-rambling reply concerning some that still exist and some that are gone but not forgotten.

I thought I'd start a new thread and see where these two questions take us:

1) What local (to you) still existant old-school hardware stores and industrial supply houses do you know of, ones which are ON TOPIC because they have tools/parts/supplies for Antique Machinery.

2) Do you mourn the loss of any particular late, great hardware & industrial supply houses? What did you buy there that you now have difficulty purchasing? Again, try to keep this on topic by relating it to the antiquated tools or machinery you bought there.

Recently visited and still in existence:

*Suter's Hardware in Altoona, PA. They had an odd-sized adz-eye handle that I needed.

*Surplus City in Altoona PA. What a great assortment of new and perhaps slightly-used "stuff"! They were selling Morse-shank twist drills by the pound.

*Max Brown Industrial Hardware in Carteret, NJ. He just got forced to relocate by urban renewal. He's now at 1000 Port Carteret Drive, which is somewhat off the beaten path.

* Madsen & Howell in Perth Amboy, NJ. Recently bought a couple of short-length 32" sledgehammer handles, which is a time & money saver because you don't want the full-length handle for a lot of work.

* Barnett Tool Supply, Kenilworth, NJ. He's got a large stock of milling cutters and Morse taper drills.

* Grand Tool Supply in Teterboro, NJ. They seem to be the king of Brown & Sharpe tapered tooling. They also have way oil and spindle oil in convenient gallon cans.

Recently visited and now defunct:

*McNulty Hardware in Coalport, PA. Right out of "The Walton's" - lots of pre-war items.

Long gone but fondly remembered:

* Edwin [Edward? not sure] Ruskin, Jersey City, NJ Man, you shoulda seen the circa 1905 store fixtures in that place! Purchased several discontinued Stanley tools and various other odds & ends like lantern globes.

* Wallace Armer Hardware on Erie Blvd in Schennectady NY. Had a continuous-belt messenger system for running notes to the stockroom. I bought new, old stock I&J White plane blades for obsolete wooden carpenter's planes.

* Koenig's Industrial Supply, Linden, NJ.

So, where do you / have you enjoyed buying supplies/parts/tooling for your old machines?

John Ruth
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mister honey

Feb 2, 2005
eastern blowville heights, ohio
Aufdemkampe Hardware in Cincinnati, gone since 2003~2004.

Had a great display & selection of Starrett precision tools and Delta Rockwell woodworking equipment.
I recall a large Carborundum stone & honing oil was on-hand to sharpen your pocket knife.

I bought my thread files and railroad chalk there.

Near the front door was a raised "bullpen" with a receptionist. You'd take a number and browse.
When your number was called, a salesman (always wearing a necktie) would escort you around the store, pull your items and provide a handwritten receipt.



Mar 12, 2001
New Haven, CT
Hi John,

I just saw your post in the other forum. I will have to try to find some of those stores next time I am in Jersey or Danbury.

Here's the one I am pissed I missed;
Going once, going twice ... gone - Local News from Myrecordjournal.com

I only found out due to an ad I found here for some one selling cutters he bought at the auction! To think I could have visited that place but never knew!:angry:

Here's some photos left from the auction listing:(Clearing House Auction - Daily Schedule




Do places like this still exist out there?


Aug 31, 2006
I went to an auction in Coffeyville Kansas a few years ago at a place called Coffeyville Mill Supply. This guy's store had the wooden floor and tin ceiling going on, plus the ladders traveling along the wall to reach the high items. All his shelving/pigenholes were wood. Had the Starret display, plus loads of their tools. This guy had everything. It was a time capsule.

Folks I work with that live over there say there is still a store there called Ishams (spelling?) that is about the same thing. Coffeyville was quite the industrialized town (refinery, foundries, smelter, railroads, brick factories, oilfield equipment, you name it) and had needs for these kinds of stores, in my estimation.

My moms family owned the Haynes Hardware store in Emporia Kansas from the early 1900's till the 1970s' and I recall my mom mentioning that they sold dynamite. The old 2 story building burned in a spectacular fire in the 1960's, rebuilt immediately. They actually had 2 separate stores- one regular hardware store, and the other building a block away was the "farm store". While rebuilding was going on, they did everything from the farm store.

What I remember best was the sporting goods department sold golf clubs! The guy working that department was called "Irish" and I remember him wearing different flashy colored plaid pants.

Funny the things you remember.....

Ron Hofer

Hot Rolled
Jul 7, 2007
Brookfield, WI
Reinhard Ace in Milwaukee

Reinhard Ace Hardware in Milwaukee closed about 8 or 10 years ago. A great loss to the community. Displays of what appeared to be just about every Starrett tool imaginable, as well as great, quality woodworking tools. (Where else could you buy a veneer hammer?) I happened to be around at the rummage sale, though I got there a few days late, so I missed all the really cool display stuff. However, I did pretty much buy out their selection of small machine screws. 4-40, 3-56, 3-48, 2-56, even 1-72--all in their original Forties boxes.

Now and then, I'll even dream that I'm roaming down those maple-floored aisles. But, alas, it must now be numbered amongst the things that were

Old Bus

Cast Iron
Nov 18, 2007
Manchester, NJ
Burns Industrial Hardware in East Hanover, NJ finally locked the door for the last time 2 weeks ago. I bought truck loads from the son in the last month or so...just too sad. Some of the items were stocked in the 50's and still on the shelves!

I guess I went nuts in the Gits oiler shelves! I helped supply a lot of people at Cabin Fever with them...if Mr. Burns were alive today he would be proud of where his stuff went.


By the way John...I was there when Max Brown moved across Roosevelt Avenue about 6 years ago. They tossed 5 or 6 dumpsters of old stock away. I can only imagine what else when when they relocated again.



Mar 22, 2007
On Elk Mountain, West Virginia, USA
I hope Joseph Finkle and Son on Coryell Street in Lambertville, New Jersey is still thriving. They had hardware back to whenever, apparently had bought out numerous other hardware stores. Had ancient cast-iron welding rods, had handles to fit strapped shovels, had zaxes and wading boots; had a steel warehouse, a full line of welding supplies, full plumbing supply, full electrical supply. I bought a 1920's 2 hp 3 ph motor there that I used as RPC for my Pelz ironworker

How about Kent's Tools in Tucson? Used tools, plumber's, carpenter's, machinist's, mechanic's, and reasonable almost-flea-market prices.

Bill's Machine Shop

Hot Rolled
Jul 12, 2006
Webster, MN
Is San Diego Hardware still there? What a place. Easy to get lost by cascading distractions. All kinds of stainless stuff for rigging boats. Seven Corners Hardware is thriving in St Paul MN. Stuff stacked all the way to the ceiling. Aisles about two feet wide. WWQ

Dave A

Jan 4, 2005
Roseville, CA
Browns Hardware on Auburn Blvd in the outskirts of Sacramento. Probably closed in the late 1980's, but seemingly had everything and it was all jumbled together. You would probably never find it, but they knew where everything was. The thought of inventorying that place gave me nightmares.

Up in N. Calif. in my home town of Yreka, CA there are two old timers still around. Cooley and Pollard has been on Miner Street since the early 1900's but is fairly modern when it comes to stock. They had a powder magazine on a hillside away from town, where they stored the dynamite, but don't think they sell it anymore. There used to be a lot of mining and logging road building in the area, but not so much anymore. Yreka Hardware has been around since well before I can remember and has the great oiled wooden floors and atmosphere. Next time I am up there, will have to stop in and just look around.

George Andreasen

Feb 11, 2007
Alturas, California
Ace hardware in Parkersburg W. Virginia......I needed some all thread to secure an antique engine for its trip back to the west coast. The store was a REAL hardware store...wooden floors, wooden bins full of bolts and horseshoes, mining supplies, etc.....stuff I hadn't seen in 20 years. I don't remember seeing a chrome plated/plastic appliance in the place. It even smelled good.

As the guy was ringing up the all thread, he politely asked (in that wonderful drawl) if there was anything else I needed. I quipped about wanting some calcium carbide and his reply was "Sure, how much?". They had an unopened five gallon container of Union Carbide in the back room. I got four new quart paint cans full and brought it back with me. Calcium carbide is almost impossible to find anymore, so it gets carefully rationed out to my miner's lamps.

calvin b

Hot Rolled
Nov 29, 2007
E-burg MD USA
Howdy Ya'll,
My 'local' supply house if Foltz manufacturing in Hagerstown MD.
  Industrial & Construction Fasteners Retail - Hagerstown, MD - The Foltz Manufacturing & Supply Co.
Great place with friendly counter help.. Three stories of just about anything you can imagine.. A nice vintage machine shop ( yes they still have and use belt driven equipment).. If you need any odd/hard to get things they probably have it in stock... I buy alot of blades for my 14 inch power hacksaw from them.. And it has that smell of a 'real' shop.. that special combination of high sulfur cutting oil and pungent solvents with the hint of cigar smoke and anthracite coal....
Stay safe

Eric M

Cast Iron
Nov 21, 2007
Orlando, FL
Lang's Hardware in Casselberry, FL - one of those "old school" places that was (sadly) closed up, probably because of the H.D. nearby. They always had at least one of whatever oddball fitting you needed. Gone but not forgotten....


Cast Iron
Apr 22, 2008
Northern VA
Nichols Hardware Inc
131 North 21st Street, Purcellville, VA 20132-3078

(540) 338-7131 ‎

Just as you described earlier, old store, family owned, wooded floors and drawers full of the things you need, and on the off chance that they are out of what you want, it will be there in a jiffy...

They still use one of those old receipt machines that you crank out, fill out in pen, and separate the carbons to give you your copy.

They even have ONE of the those new fangled credit card machines where you place the card on the machine and run a roller over a multi-carbon form... no online credit card service. they can actually ring you up on thier manual cash register even when the power is off!

The place took me back to memories of my youth... If you are in the neighborhood, drop by... you won't be disappointed.


May 9, 2007
Wellsville, Kansas
Harry J Epstein hardware down town Kansas City. Old 3 story brick building with squeaky wood floors and tin ceilings. Narrow asiles of tall metal shelves. Specializing in old stock of U.S. made hand tools and some surplus.
Wholesale Industrial American Hand Tool Distributor - Harry J. Epstein Co.

Just down there yesterday, picked up a couple U.S. made 9/16-12 taps 4.50 ea. Found some small old boxes of Millers Falls marked nail set punches, 1.50 ea. Didn't really need another one, but bought one just because....



Hot Rolled
Jul 14, 2003
Chelmsford, MA USA
McKittrick Hardware in Lowell, MA.

Classic hardware store - right down to the enclosed cashier by the door of the place.

You go in, they serve you (anything you may want they have it!), you take your receipt (which was written up by hand from the books of costs) and you pay and happily tote home your purchase.

They do take credit cards, so are in the latter half of the 20th century, but don;t expect prices on boxes and such - everything comes out of the books.

Great place.