Shop Talk is a weekly column featuring locally owned and operated businesses. This week, we talk to William and Janet Rigby of William J. Rigby Co. in Cooperstown.
How long have you lived in the area?
We have lived in the area 21 years.
Tell me about your business.
We sell antique builders’ hardware; that is, locks, knobs, hinges and anything that fastens on a building. Most of our stock is unused original hardware from before World War II. We don’t sell reproductions or salvage hardware. Bill also restores hardware to original or better than original condition. We ship hardware that is fully functional and ready to install, oftentimes with custom installation instructions. A big part of our job is education by helping our customers understand what they have and what they need to make things work.
Describe a typ
ical day in your business.
There is no typical day. In a
perfect world, we fill orders that come in over the website or by phone, update the website so we don’t sell things twice, pull hardware that can be listed on the website and start the process of research, photography and descriptions. But then we also answer the phone, field questions and meet with anyone who walks into the shop.
How did you get started in this line of work?
We both have background is historic preservation and knew there was a market for good old hardware. Once we moved here, we had the opportunity to buy large quantities of unused hardware from hardware stores and warehouses in various cities. We amassed a collection of old hardware catalogs from which we do research, and Bill can fix anything. We knew we could do it.
Where do you see this business in five years?
We’ll probably be puttering right along. This business fits in with our lifestyle and is never dull. We will never move out of our niche market.