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Newbury Street losing its hardware store

Back Bay Hardware, 221 Newbury St., is closing forever on Oct. 31, after 76 years in business. Lex Stevens, who has owned the store the last 25 years, tries to explain the closing:

There is no simple answer as to why. There are a multitude of reasons why a small hardware store is no longer sustainable in the Back Bay.

I will be retiring to Cape Cod. Matt and Antone are seeking new opportunities. Being hardworking and ambitious, they will soon find new positions. Omar is returning to school to study coding.

It as been a joy working with all of you these past twenty five years.

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I am sure there are a number of reasons, but if the business was sustainable it would have been sold instead of closing. High rent has to be high on the list, although perhaps behind big box stores and online shopping.

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Voting closed 18

High rent? They sold the building they had been in for decades not too long ago.

Sounds like they wanted to retire and no one else wanted to buy out or take over the business.

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Voting closed 20

I didn't look it up, but I can imagine they got close to 8 figures for the building. Just can't justify putting a hardware store in such an expensive location. Hence my gentrification comment. Obviously at one time you there was a cost justification for putting a hardware store there that isn't true any more.

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Voting closed 11

They call their man or their service to get that pesky light bulb replaced or to have a screen repaired. I'm being a bit facetious, but honestly these days less Back Bay people are going to run down to the corner hardware store for a gallon of paint or a new hammer.

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Voting closed 30

Same is true for not-so-rich people if they rent or own a condo. Some people do some DIY, but a lot of projects are assigned to a building management company or landlord. And the professionals who do the updates and repairs are more likely to drive to a store that has a parking lot., which might be an independently-owned store or more likely a big box store.

For DIY work, I appreciate a local hardware store, where I can get good advice. It helps if it is located near a subway stop or easy walking/biking distance, depending on what I am going to be carrying home.

I hope the owner & staff enjoy their next phase -- sorry to see this store go.

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Voting closed 22

I think being wholly reliant on management for repairs and renos in a condo is a little less common in Boston than it is elsewhere, because of the ubiquity of three deckers that do not hold maintenance contracts. But you're spot-on for rentals.

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Voting closed 13

Not everyone who lives in the Back Bay is rich. Actually, no one I know who lives here is rich -- obviously rich people live here, but the ones we know are not nor are they trust-funders. I have no 'man to call' to do anything, so that's you projecting, Gary C.

Been to this hardware store MANY times over the nearly 2 decades I've lived in Boston to pick up tools, supplies, etc. for repair work that we do ourselves. People who work at the Newbury St. hardware store have always been super helpful and offered great advice and creative solutions. We'll mis them!

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Voting closed 19

For now, at least. Expensive, but more convenient than the 10 bus to South Bay.

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Voting closed 19

Economy True Value Hardware forever! Please never close

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Voting closed 10

Charles Street Supply. More convenient than South Bay or the Fenway for much of Back Bay.

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Voting closed 9

I'm a do-it-yourselfer by nature -- I worked my way through college, aeons ago, as a handyman/carpenter/etc. and still have most of my tools and skills. My inclination (as a Boston tenant) is to fix things myself, not get entangled with the superintendant and landlord (which tends to complicate things).

However, I'm reluctant to take the responsibility. For example, I have washers that need to be replaced in my drippy kitchen and bathroom sinks, and I was about to do it myself (which I easily could, although my plumbing knowledge is very limited). Then I read an article (was it here?) about some tenant who tried to replace a washer and caused a flood in his building with a half-million-dollars in damage, or something like that. So I decided to let the faucets drip for now, and tell the landlord eventually to send a plumber.

Add to that -- that the young guys who took over the local hardware store don't know anything at all about the stuff they sell, or even what they have in stock. Why they chose to go into the hardware business I don't know.

So my tools mostly sit in the cabinet, and I don't go to hardware stores so much any more, and I'm not surprised they're shutting down. Seems like a shame somehow.

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Voting closed 16

Here's the story: https://www.universalhub.com/2019/guy-tries-replacing-faucet-allston-apa...

He shut off the water under the sink properly. The problem was a corroded pipe inside the wall.

Moral of the story: know where all of your shutoffs are. If you live in a small building and can get to the whole-house shutoff, you're probably fine.

Even if you depend on plumbers, you should still know where the shutoffs are. A lot of water can flow out of a broken pipe while you're waiting for the plumber.

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Voting closed 1

I'd been having issues with my kitchen sink for months, but after reading the same post (https://www.universalhub.com/2019/guy-tries-replacing-faucet-allston-apa...) decided against fixing it myself and only recently was able to have a licensed plumber come over and fix it for me. Bad for hardware stores, but good for plumbers I guess?

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Voting closed 2

They're like Lucca Ravioli, an institution in SF that recently closed after getting millions for its property. Hey, they were in business for 94 years.

https://www.sfgate.com/food/article/Lucca-Ravioli-san-francisco-closing-...

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Voting closed 9

My favorite hardware store in the Boston area is Norfolk. Just a wonderful place and folks are super helpful.

https://www.norfolkhardware.com/

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Voting closed 10