Following is our premier article, about P.C. Smith and Son Hardware. Following the article is a link to get to the Saugerties Area Chamber of Commerce Web site, as well as a document and photos related to the article.
P.C. Smith and Son Hardware
As Rick and Sharon Smith reminisced during my interview with them for this article, they were all smiles, recalling pleasant memories about the business and the personalities that have kept the business going. There are no exact numbers handy, but in general terms, Smith Hardware, as itís known by locals, has been in business for 4 generations and for over 100 years.
It all began when P.C. Smith (Rick and Sharonís great grandfather), a plumber and tin knocker, opened up a business that involved weekly trips to Albany, to buy a weekís supply of hardware from wholesalers there. Back in those days, what you bought was what you sold for the week. So in your travels throughout the Saugerties Village Historic Business District, as you admire tin ceilings in various establishments, figure that a good number of them were crafted by P.C. himself.
In the 1930s, P.C.ís son Albert began getting involved in the business. Itís Albert who plays a role in one of Rick and Sharonís funniest stories about the storeís past . . . legend (and an old Saugerties Post Star article) has it that Albert discovered a brazen thief removing the storeís money bag through an office window. He chased the thief and caught him at the fence in the back parking lot.
After World War II, where he flew fighter planes, Dick Smith began his time at the helm of the Main Street store. Like his father and grandfather before him, Dick was a good and fair businessman, and that combination is always admired in a Village and Town like Saugerties. The photo above shows the 3 generations of Smith gentlemen, who we can thank for a hardware store that has served the needs of Saugertesians for over a century.
What is it about Smith Hardware that keeps people coming back? An article that appeared in the June 1999 Consumer Reports provides some insights. (See "Documents" below for a copy of the article.) And the folks I talk to mention things like service; the personable staff, who have built up a genuine rapport with their repeat customers; a great variety of items in stock (they donít say ďIf we donít have it, you donít need itĒ for nothing); and a highly knowledgeable staff, who average 20 years with the business.
Who are these friendly, hardware-knowledgeable people? Besides Rick and Angela and Sharon and Mike at the helm, other members of the staff who you might encounter on a visit are Mike L., Gladys, Lance, Alex and Bob . . . each heading up one of the many departments in the store. And on a part-time basis, there are Fred, Gavin, and Keenan. Over the years, many part-time workers at P.C. Smith have gone on to other major jobs. Many of them have gotten back in touch from their corners of the world to pass on their thanks to the Smith family for the value of their work experience in the store.
Like a lot of Saugerties businesses, Smith Hardware has done a yeomanís job of supporting local charities, civic organizations, Fire Departments, auxiliaries, churches scouting organizations and on and on. Thatís yet another connection they have to Saugerties, and another of the many reasons why, when people think about a Saugerties Village Historic Business District foundation store, P.C. Smith and Son Hardware will always be among the top stores that comes to mind.
Article by Mike Campbell (posted Feb. 17, 2006)