Store Manager Diane Vradenburg
and owner Victor Feany are all set for Saturday's 55th anniversary party at Newhall Hardware.
Photos by Mason Poole-The Signal.
Not too much has changed at Newhall Hardware on San Fernando Road since Victory Feany started sweeping the floors there in 1976 ... and that's just the way he likes it.
Western music can still be heard in the background as customers stand in line next to the peanut barrel at the back of the store, waiting to check out.
"We have made a strong effort not to change anything," said Feany, who bought the hardware store in 1998. "We have tried to stay the one constant in the area."
A wide variety of fixtures, pipes, tools, nuts, bolts, cookware, automobile supplies, locks, weather stripping, ice cream makers, guns and ammo and more are found on the store shelves, which have an old-fashioned atmosphere about them.
Store Manager Diane Vradenburg said Newhall Hardware specializes in carrying everything large chain supply outlets don't carry.
"If we don't have it, you don't need it," said Vradenburg, who has worked at Newhall Hardware since 1978. "That's the flavor of the store."
Vradenburg said the store's old-fashioned feel and customer service are what keep people coming back.
"We offer them individual customer service," she said. "We never say, 'That's not our department.' We always try and find what they need."
Newhall Hardware, which was opened by Don Guglielmino in 1947, is the oldest hardware store in the Santa Clarita Valley.
"This is not just a hardware store. It is also a museum," Feany said. "Sometimes I feel I'm not the owner, but the caretaker. This is a piece of history."
Narrow aisles packed with
every conceivable tool and household item are a trademark at Newhall Hardware.
Vradenburg said that when the store opened with nearly 1,500 square feet of sales area, Guglielmino and former store manager Mel McSpadden sold items such as canning supplies, guns and ammo, tractor parts, fencing supplies, water tanks, well supplies, nails, bolts, housewares and gifts.
"There wasn't anywhere else to buy stuff then," Vradenburg said. "We've always had a nice selection, but it was more of a general store then. "
She said Guglielmino expanded Newhall Hardware's sales area in the 1950s by occupying the rest of the space in the building, adding a rear addition and a warehouse and a two-story office.
Feany, who was a store clerk at the time, took over as manger in 1984 when McSpadden retired.
"The reason I like the hardware business is I like to solve problems, and I get to help solve a lot of customer problems every day here," Feany said.
Later, in the 1980s, a lawnmower sales and repair shop and a nursery were added across the street.
"Don really put a lot of time and effort into this store," Vradenburg said.
After celebrating its 50th anniversary in 1997, Newhall Hardware's lawnmower shop and nursery were closed to allow for the widening of Railroad Avenue and the construction of a new Metrolink station.
In 1998 Guglielmino sold Newhall Hardware to Feany.
"I bought the store to continue the legacy," Feany said. "These types of stores aren't opening anymore. They are closing. This is a part of the valley's history, and it's neat to own this and be part of it."
Vradenburg said since the Metrolink station was built, there has been no parking in the area.
"There isn't any parking here," she said. "There is limited two-hour parking out front, but that's it. A lack of parking is killing us."
Feany said since he bought Newhall Hardware, business has been good, but it has been all he can do to make the store profitable.
"Because of the lack of parking, we aren't getting the larger volume of customers we need to be profitable," he said. "We have a lot of terrific customers who will drive around the block looking for parking, but some don't even stop when they can't find a space."
He said he hopes the city will create more parking areas in downtown Newhall so the hardware store can be around for another 50 years.
"We hope the future will bring what the past has brought for the next 50 years," he said. "We just want to keep it running as it has."
The public is invited to celebrate Newhall Hardware's 55th anniversary on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Refreshments, including 25-cent hotdogs and sodas and homemade ice cream, will be available at the store, located at 24322 San Fernando Rd., and gifts and coupons to other stores in Newhall will be handed out.
©2002 THE SIGNAL · USED BY PERMISSION · ALL RIGHTS RESERVED