Manchester Hardware to close in Easthampton

  • Manchester Hardware owner Carol Perman stands in a three-floor storage barn attached to the store, Feb. 25.  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • Casey Williamson, who is the store manager of Manchester Hardware in Easthampton, rearranges merchandise, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020 in preparation for a retirement sale that begins on Thursday. Carol Perman, the store's owner, is retiring and plans to close the store. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Carol Perman, left, who is the owner of Manchester Hardware in Easthampton, talks about her retirement beside her store manager, Casey Williamson, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. She plans to close the store. A retirement sale begins on Thursday. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Casey Williamson, right, who is the store manager of Manchester Hardware in Easthampton, talks about the store beside the store's owner, Carol Perman, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. Perman is retiring and plans to close the store. A retirement sale begins on Thursday. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Carol Perman, right, who is the owner of Manchester Hardware in Easthampton, talks about her retirement beside her store manager, Casey Williamson, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. She plans to close the store. A retirement sale begins on Thursday. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Casey Williamson, store manager at Manchester Hardware in Easthampton, rearranges merchandise Tuesday in preparation for a retirement sale that begins on Thursday. Carol Perman, the store’s owner, is retiring and plans to close the store. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Carol Perman, who is the owner of Manchester Hardware, stands with her husband, Gary Perman, on Union Street in Easthampton, Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Carol Perman, who is the owner of Manchester Hardware, stands in a three-floor storage barn that is attached to the store, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. She said such storage is unusual for a business this size.

Staff Writer
Published: 9/8/2020 10:25:55 AM

EASTHAMPTON — After well over a century in business, Manchester Hardware is closing for good.

“I had to just say, ‘It’s my time to go,’” owner Carol Perman said.

Perman, 67, shared the news in a letter online Monday, which was also sent out to select customers last week.

“I want you to be the first to know that after careful consideration, I have decided to retire and close Manchester’s,” reads part of the letter. “While I love the store and serving the community I have reached a fork in the road.”

The letter also announces a retirement sale, promising that it will be the “largest sale in the history of the store … and the last!”

The sale begins Thursday and will last until the inventory has been sold off. Everything in the store will be 20 percent or more off to begin with.

The store closed on Labor Day and will reopen for the sale.

The business that would ultimately become Manchester Hardware was started by G.L. Manchester in 1895 and sold pipe fittings. It soon became a hardware store and was first incorporated in 1911. It was first located on Liberty Street, before moving to Union Street where it has been ever since.

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

Earlier this year, Perman said she was looking to sell one of the two buildings that make up Manchester’s retail space in a move to consolidate and make the business easier to sell.

Perman said her efforts to sell the hardware store have not been successful, and she described closing down as “my last choice.”

She also said that the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on the business.

“It really took the wind out of our sails,” said Casey Williamson, the store’s manager.

Williamson said that near the beginning of the pandemic, the store lost 75 to 80 percent of its sales staff, because the workers didn’t feel comfortable going to work anymore.

For a time during the pandemic only five people were working at the store, including Perman, although they subsequently added four other workers.

Perman said she’s still open to selling the business as a hardware store.

“I’m open to anything,” said Perman, who owns both buildings that house Manchester Hardware.

She also acknowledged feeling emotional about the sale.

“It’s more than just selling hardware,” said Perman. “It’s solving problems for people.”

Williamson expressed gratitude at having the opportunity to work at the store, which has been her employer for 5½ years.

“I still hold hope for the angel investor,” she said.

Both Williamson and Perman also praised the store’s employees.

“The bulk of our staff, they stick around,” said Williamson.

As for what Perman will be doing with her retirement, Perman said she’s building a retirement home in Westhampton, is taking a class on designing with native plants, and is planning on doing some volunteering.

Mayor Nicole LaChapelle described Manchester’s as part of the “soul” of the city’s downtown.

“Losing a business like Manchester Hardware is not just an empty building,” said LaChapelle. “It’s fewer jobs and fewer connections that people can have to their city.”

City Councilor Thomas Peake also expressed sadness at the store’s closing.

“It was so nice to have a hardware store close to where I live,” said Peake. “They always have treated me really well.”

He also said that he hopes someone finds a way to buy the business.

“I just personally like having a local hardware store,” he said.

Perman said that anyone interested in buying the business can call the store.

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




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