A fond farewell: Manchester Hardware, a ‘pillar of Union Street’ in Easthampton, closes for good

  • Pat Brough, a regular customer at Manchester Hardware in Easthampton, looks at a shirt on Nov. 10, the last day the shop was open. He had come to say goodbye to the owner, Carol Perman, “They always had what you needed when you needed it and there was always someone to talk to you to help you out,” he said about the store. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Carol Perman, owner of Manchester Hardware, yells a price to a customer on the last day the store was open, Nov. 10, in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Manchester Hardware on the last day it was open, Nov. 10. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Alan Roderiques, left, talks with Carol Perman, owner of Manchester Hardware, on the last day it was open in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Lily Goon, left, and MaryEllen LaRouche, both regular shoppers at Manchester Hardware, look over items to buy on the last day the store was open. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Dan Rist, left, a city councilor in Easthampton, showed up with others to give Carol Perman, owner of Manchester Hardware, a gift on the last day the store was open in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Alan Roderiques looks over items for sale on the last day Manchester Hardware was open in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Casey Williamson, the manager at Manchester Hardware, and Gary Perman, husband of the owner, Carol Perman, clear things out on the last day the store was open.

  • Carol Perman, owner of Manchester Hardware, takes a moment to reflect on the last day the store was open in Easthampton. Top, the outside of the Union Street store. STAFF PHOTOS/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Casey Williamson, the manager at Manchester Hardware, sweeps and cleans things out on the last day the store was open. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 11/16/2020 2:51:09 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Sadness and relief.

That’s how Carol Perman, hours away from closing on Tuesday, anticipated she would feel after she locked the doors of Manchester Hardware for the final time after three decades at the helm, officially closing the book on a business that’s been a part of the community’s fabric for more than a century.

The 67-year-old Perman announced in early September that Manchester Hardware, which has been in her family for decades, would be going out of business. The next two-plus months have served as a farewell tour for Perman, who is retiring, and a sell-off of much of the store’s merchandise, at 75% discounts on its last day.

The sale seems to have done its job, as Perman estimated that 90% of Manchester’s inventory had been sold.

“It’s been really wild to see it dismantled in this way,” said Casey Williamson, the store’s manager.

Williamson said that as time has gone on, the sadness around the closing began to lift for her, and she said that she’s excited for her boss.

In terms of highlights of the closing, Williamson said that “Seeing the cellar empty was just really wild.”

She also said that as the store has become more empty, there has been a greater interest in buying fixtures from customers.

On a personal level, Williamson, 27, described working for Manchester’s as “the most meaningful and significant employment of my life so far.”

Perman said that she hadn’t expected to see the outpouring of appreciation for the store in its final weeks, which she also noted did get a bit emotionally tiring.

“I didn’t expect the reaction,” Perman said. “I didn’t know what I was getting into.”

Perman also said that “people really came out of the woodwork for the sale.”

The business that would become Manchester Hardware was started by G.L. Manchester in 1895 and sold pipe fittings, although it soon became a hardware store. It was originally located on Liberty Street before moving to Union Street, where it has been ever since.

Perman’s father, George Stawarz, purchased the business in 1960, and she began operating it in 1990.

Despite ending regular hours last week, Manchester Hardware is still open via appointment, and Perman said that the process of selling off the remaining inventory and fixtures would last until at least the end of the year.

Last Tuesday saw a number of people come to Manchester’s to say goodbye.

One of those well wishers was Patrick Brough, who was unsuccessful in his effort to get a picture with Perman.

“I missed her and then I never got a chance to get back to her unfortunately,” he said.

Brough has lived in Easthampton for 24 years, and has been going to Manchester’s for just as long. He praised the store’s staff for always being able to find what one needs and for being “always welcoming when you come in there.”

“It’s been a pillar of Union Street,” he said.

The City Council also sent a delegation over on Manchester’s last day, and presented Perman with a card and flowers, something she hadn’t expected. The retirement card was signed by all the councilors and the mayor, with the action initiated by City Councilor Dan Rist.

One of the customers also bought Perman and her staff pizza.

So far, the building has not been sold, which Perman said wasn’t surprising to her.

“This COVID thing, its changed the way people are doing everything,” she said

Perman did say, however, that she’s still open to selling it as a hardware store.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2020 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy