A community helps treasured Plainview hardware store make move

April 23, 2018

The owners say the move to a space twice as big represents a win for small business in an era when local stores struggle to compete with corporate chains and online retailers.

Trio Hardware owners Todd and Ritsa Kirschner in the new store on Saturday with an oversized ruler that will be signed by the employees and volunteers who helped move the store. Photo Credit: David L. Pokress

Dan Naftol has been shopping at Trio Hardware in Plainview for 30 years, dropping in once or twice a week to buy nuts and bolts, tools or replacement parts for his home’s electrical and plumbing systems.

So when Trio’s owners asked for volunteers to help them move the contents of the 55-year-old store to a new location about a mile up Old Country Road, Naftol said he jumped at the chance.

“They’ve been historically so good to the community,” Naftol, 56, of Plainview said at the new shop Saturday, where dozens of volunteers unpacked crates and arranged goods on shelves.

Longtime customer and volunteer Cindy Ellner carries a container of items to be placed on the shelves at Trio Hardware’s new Plainview location on Saturday. Photo Credit: David L. Pokress

“We want to give back,” he said.

More than 100 longtime Trio customers, employees, family and friends are spending the weekend loading up the more than 60,000 valves, bulbs, drill bits and other items in stock at the family-owned hardware store, and unpacking them in the new shop in a shopping center under construction south of the Long Island Expressway.

Owners Todd and Ritsa Kirschner say the move to the 6,000-square-foot space — twice the size of its predecessor — represents a win for small business in an era when stores like theirs often struggle to compete with corporate chains and online retailers.

“We are probably one of the longest-running businesses in Plainview that’s still around,” said Todd Kirschner, 43, who, like his wife, began working at the store as a high school student.

“We breathe and bleed hardware,” said Ritsa Kirschner, 48. “It is not just a business.”

The Kirschners, of East Northport, began their careers at the store stocking shelves and climbed the ranks to become managers. They fell in love at the shop, married in 2004, and in 2017 purchased it from the prior owners, the Carlow family, which started the business in 1963.

“That was our legacy,” prior owner Francesca Carlow, 63, said Saturday as she watched the new shop take shape. “This is their legacy. This is their future,” she said.

“Most downtowns don’t have hardware stores any longer,” said Carlow, noting the dominance of big-box chains like Home Depot and online marketplaces such as Amazon.

All the more reason to patronize community fixtures such as Trio, said Marie Prodana, 64, the store’s housewares manager, one of many employees who has worked there for decades.

“If you lose the small mom-and-pop stores, you take away from the character of the community,” she said, as she hung vinyl shower liners on a display hook.

“When people shop in their own community and support local stores, they’re helping everybody,” she said.

The Kirschners said they hope to be open for business again on Monday.

Original article from Newsday
By Jesse Coburn

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