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February 23, 2013

Hardware is in Munson family's DNA

Just off Exit 16 in Oneona is a handyman’s dream of a store, housing nearly 20,000 square feet of building supplies.

Munson True Value is an old-fashioned hardware store filled with modern supplies for contractors and do-it-yourself homeowners.

The Munson family, now in its third generation of Munson True Value employees, has been in business since 1964.

“We have seen the community steadily grow,” said Steve Munson, part owner of the hardware store.

But the recent downturn in the economy hit the construction business particularly hard. Nationwide, building starts were at an all-time low. With many fighting to save their homes from foreclosure, renovations and home-improvement projects took a back seat. 

“We have seen the ups and downs of the construction business, but this last downturn, with the banking industry failing, was one of the worst I have ever seen,” Munson said. “But in the last 12 months or so, we have seen business improve.”

The store’s 1,200 accounts represent contractors, carpenters and home improvement businesses throughout the region. The store sells a wide variety of building supplies, from freshly ripped boards and penny nails to Andersen windows and doors.

Munson True Value began life as a skating rink when Munson’s father, Fred Munson, constructed the building in 1956 as a part-time business for weekend fun. At the time, he also worked for a contractor, who persuaded him to turn the skating rink into to a lumber yard.

The original building, which burned down in 1972, was 6,000 square feet and offered far fewer amenities than the one that stands today, Steve Munson explained.

“The product lines are 10 times what they used to be,” he said. “It used to be that the Andersen Windows catalog was about half an inch thick. Now it is so big it is on a CD. There are so many more choices now in sizes and colors.”

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