The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Reporter's Notebook

October 13, 2012

Soon-to-close Stevens is not your ordinary hardware store

Walking into Stevens Hardware Co. at 153 Main St. is not only a “neat” experience but also a chance to meander along memory lane.

The family business, currently owned by 94-year-old John Stevens, is closing after 130 years. Stevens’ daughter, Francine Bailey, is seeing the store through its final weeks, with the last day slated for Nov. 1.

On Thursday, the shelves weren’t empty, but they did sing somewhat of a time gone by. A birch bark canoe, which Bailey dated to about 1940, is displayed on a shelf near the ceiling.

Birds and animals preserved through taxidermy give the store the aura of a natural history museum. The store has a quiet atmosphere, suitable for contemplating a purchase, unlike a contemporary big box store where bright lights and colors bombard the senses of shoppers who sometimes have to compete with merchandise for aisle space.

Bailey, who put the “going-out-of-business’’ sign in the storefront window last week, said she is taking the closure “one day at a time.’’ Most merchandise will be offered at 25 percent off, she said, but that doesn’t include the “stuffed’’ animals or other hunting trophies.

On Thursday, the store stock included a variety of items for outdoor activities: Fish hooks, canoe paddles, life vests, rain ponchos, cooking utensils, sleeping gear, lanterns and much more. A manikin wearing an embroidered shirt stands in the back of the store, still yet gesturing. Miscellany includes Christmas tree ornaments.

Ron Venth of East Meredith stopped in the store Thursday afternoon after seeing the “going out of business’’ sign.

“I’ve come in here for fly-tying stuff for five or six years or longer,’’ he said. Not many stores in the area carry fly-tying supplies, which are readily available online, he said. Stevens Hardware offers a chance to look in person at the items, he said, and also has other interesting merchandise.

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