HAMPDEN – After more than 50 years in business, Hampden Hardware & General Store at 480 Main St. will close its doors sometime early next year.
Mark Casey, the store’s owner for 14 years, told Reminder Publications he and his wife and co-owner Linda decided to close the store due to a decline in sales, which he believes is due to Internet purchases and larger stores.
The couple took ownership of the shop in late September 2001 from the previous owners, who had planned to close the store during that time, he noted. The hardware shop’s founder was William Bureau, who opened the business in 1962.
“I had just been laid off at my job at the time and this prospect opened up,” Casey said. “[Hampden Hardware’s] going out of business sale lasted about three or four days and we made an agreement to purchase the store whole and stop the going out of business sale.”
He continued, “We’ve been a business since then all this time knowing even at that time the two big box stores – Home Depot and Lowes – really put out of business at that time half the hardware stores in the country. I knew this going in. I didn’t know how long it would last, but I was willing to give it a shot and see how long we would last.”
Casey said he believes it’s often difficult for retailers to thrive in small suburban towns.
“You get a town like Hampden [with a population of] 5,000 people, it’s not quite enough because most of their shopping is going to be in the city,” he noted.
He added the store is scheduled to close when its entire inventory is sold, which could be from early January until the end of that month.
Casey said no one has ever inquired about taking over Hampden Hardware during the past 14 years. The owners lease the property.
Store shelving and fixtures would be sold at the end of the sale, he noted.
Casey, who is a long-time resident, said he lives up the street from the business and often walked to work.
“That part of it was really good and I like to buy and sell stuff,” he added. “I’ve been here in the community forever and I know I knew to how to do this and still make enough to make a living, but that ended a few years ago – the making a living part. We kept it going as long as we could.”
Despite the business closing, Casey said he doesn’t regret taking over Hampden Hardware.
“I want to thank all the customers that we had and we had a lot of people coming in and saying, ‘Geez, I wish you weren’t having to close.’ People were pretty nice.”
Casey said he believes local businesses benefit from the support of communities.
“I think people go a lot on price and a lot of times a local guy will be willing to deal with price for a reasonable sale,” he added. “The independent merchant can compete on price.”