HAMPTON HONORS BUSINESS LONGEVITY

Copyright © 2010, Daily Press
Monday, August 23, 2010

HAMPTON HONORS BUSINESS LONGEVITY

Edition: Final
Section: Local
Page: A1
Dateline: HAMPTON
Illustration: Mug (color)
Caption: Cary E. Patrick Jr.

Historic photo courtesy of Hampton 400
W.T. Patrick & Sons hardware store has been on West Queen Street in Hampton since 1895.

Staff photo (color)
Today, W.T. Patrick & Sons is operated by the grandson of the founder.

Historic photo courtesy of Hampton 400
Rosenbaum Hardware was founded in Hampton in 1885.

The wide windows of Patrick’s Hardware looked out on four grocery stores where West Queen Street meets Back River Road back in the 1920s. Today the 1,000-square-foot store stands in isolation surrounded by grassy areas and homes on the fringes of downtown Hampton. W.T. Patrick and Sons Inc., opened in 1895. It is one of several businesses more than 100 years old that are being honored by the city as part of its 400th anniversary celebrations.

Cary E. Patrick Jr., the present owner, who took over the family business in 1976 said the company was set up by his grandfather William T. Patrick in 1895. His grandfather lived until 1961 and was devoted to the store. “They all worked every day. When I first started they used to say vacation makes you sick, retirement makes you dead,” Patrick said. He said harmony within the family is one of the cornerstones of the store’s success. “The family’s gotten along, so that’s a start. So many times from generation to generation families just don’t get along,” he said.

Patrick, 56, said West Queen Street was once busier than it is today. “This used to be the main drag. There were four grocery businesses on the corner in the ’20s and ’30s. They stayed open until 11 o’clock on Friday and Saturday nights.” While the city has moved away from W.T. Patrick & Sons, the store hasn’t moved away from the city, although it’s diversified from a general store to specialize in hardware. In 1995 it opened a separate business Patrick’s Glass, that specializes in commercial and residential glass products, construction and repair. And in 2000 the company embraced the modern era by setting up the website patrickshardware.com, allowing customers to shop for more than 65,000 items, 24 hours a day.

But Patrick says the store has clung to traditional values while matching the prices of the big hardware chains. And it has expanded from six employees to 25 over the last 15 years. “When someone asks me where something is I’ll take them to it,” he said. “I’ve been to stores where they point and grunt. Unless I can’t stop what I’m doing I’ll take you to it.” But Patrick said the recession has put pressure on the business. “Whatever you are selling is harder to sell. I don’t care what it is,” he said. The secret to longevity will be the next generation taking an interest, he said. He has two sons and thinks his youngest, Ryan, 20, could be the one to pick up the family business. “He’s got a little interest. Whatever they want to do is fine,” he said.

Rosenbaum Fence Co. on West Pembroke Avenue is another Hampton business that’s more than 100 years old. It was founded in 1885. Rusty Kellam, partner and president, said the business was once a general hardware store but started specializing in fences in the 1960s. He also believes in traditional values. “When you call up the business you will get a voice,” he said. Kellam said the recession has had an effect, but the company has still managed to employ about 25 workers, although there has been some reduction in hours.

Hampton is planning to honor and recognize businesses that have been in existence for 100 years or more. Citizens who own a 100-year-old Hampton business or know of one are asked to send the name of the business and contact information to bvenner@hampton.gov or call 727-6815. The deadline to submit information is Sept. 1. So far seven businesses have been identified.

STAYING POWER
*Rosenbaum Fence Co.: 1885
*Smith Brothers (funeral home): 1862
*Muglers (clothing): 1898
*Snow’s (bicycles): 1908
*W.T. Patrick & Sons (hardware): 1895
*R. Hayden Smith (funeral home): 1901
*Goodman Hardware: 1906

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