Beloved Monmouth County hardware store closes after more than 50 years
🔨 After more than 50 years in Colts Neck, a beloved hardware store is closing
🔨 The owner blames COVID, supply chain and online sales
🔨 A retirement sale is planned
COLTS NECK — A family-owned and operated business that’s been in existence for 121 years, including the past 51 years in Colts Neck, has announced it’s closing its doors at the end of April.
Becker Hardware will hold a retirement sale beginning March 17 at its shop on Route 34, according to owner Art Becker.
He said Becker Hardware was started by his grandfather in downtown New York in 1903. The business then moved to Red Bank in 1923 and finally, on March 3, 1972, Becker Hardware moved to Colts Neck, where it’s been serving locals with its personal touch.
But Becker said the store has faced several challenges over the past few years, which would have forced them to stray away from staying true to their motto of being personal with customers. So, he came to a decision to shutter its doors.
“Our way of doing business is personal, one-on-one, listening to what your needs are, and then making recommendations as to what we think could meet your need, whether it’s the least expensive thing or the most expensive, it doesn’t matter,” Becker said.
He said it started with COVID-19. When the pandemic began, Becker said his sons, Dan and Jeff, who help run the store did not want their father near customers for fear he may contract the virus.
While they stayed open during COVID, the hardware store did cut its hours and it was difficult to provide that personal one-on-one service to customers.
When the pandemic wound down, Becker said they were then hit with supply issues. He could not get what he wanted. In a short time, his list from his primary supplier grew to 100 items every week on backorder.
Some items were back ordered for up to 12 months. He said the supply issues got worse.
A year ago when he placed orders for the following spring and September 2021, he was told in January he was only going to get between 10 and 15 percent of what he ordered. Some items didn’t come until October. Others never arrived.
Suppliers told Becker they didn’t know when or if they would ever get stuff to him. That’s not a way to run business, he said.
Becker said he also can’t compete with online sales.
“Sure, we could have turned to online sales, but that’s against our philosophy of talking to people, and seeing them, and not even just talking on the phone, because you want to be able to face somebody, and read their expressions,” Becker said.
What has been very difficult for Becker and his sons, who entered the business in the 1990s is that because they’ve been around for a long time, they’ve dealt with multi-generational families. He has seen the younger generations come in and bought with the same confidence that their parents and grandparents did either with Becker, his father, or his grandfather.
Confidence and relationships are built. It’s tough to say goodbye to that, he said.
“We had a good ride and we appreciate everything,” Becker said when asked what he had to say to his loyal customers.
While the 77-year-old Becker has sold the property to a local investor, he does not know what the investor plans to do with the property.
But he said he will be retiring and plans to focus on his wife and his model trains.
Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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