The Katz family has now owned and operated a hardware store on Main Street in Glastonbury, Conn., for 100 years. Katz Ace Hardware has joined The Hardware Connection Century Club, recognizing the business’ long-running ability to serve the needs of the community as both a general store and hardware store.
In 1920, Ben and Joe Katz signed the deed to buy the building that is now Katz Ace Hardware. Joe, who was Dick Katz’s father, worked for a major rubber company in the area through World War I until the demise of the footwear business. With Joe out of work, his father Ben pooled money to buy a business with enough income to support both families.
B. Katz and Son was born as a classic country general store selling just about anything available to the couple of thousand people who were living in Glastonbury in 1920. Main Street had recently been paved in front of the store, and the trolley ran in front of the store with Station 33 serving as the stop. However, much of the land surrounding the general store was still used as farmland, because the town’s population could not support a lot of retailers.
Joe and Lucy Katz were married in the mid-1920s, and Dick was the youngest of three brothers. Born in the early 1930s, Dick used the general store as his personal playroom. Other town residents gathered there frequently. The general store served as the center of social and political life in Glastonbury, especially because Joe was active in town politics as a member of the finance board. Poker games were held after hours in the back room.
Lucy was active in the store, as well, while balancing her leadership role in helping create the Glastonbury Woman’s Club in the mid-1930s.
During the 1930s, the general store was threatened by two weather catastrophes. The flood of 1936 nearly destroyed the store as four feet of water rushed in. Boats were anchored in front of the building, but the store’s merchandise was moved in time and B. Katz and Son survived. The hurricane of 1938 devastated parts of Glastonbury, but the general store survived with little or no damage.
In 1955, Dick left law school and joined the family business after Joe passed away. This marked the beginning of the evolution from small country general store to a large, full-service hardware store. The grocery merchandise was eliminated immediately, and the first of many remodels took place. Part of the remodeling process was to change the interior to how it looks today and to restore the building’s exterior to its 1870 origins.
In 1989, Bob came home one weekend and told Dick, “Dad, I want to go to work with you.” Thus began Bob’s career with Katz Ace Hardware. The store continues to serve the needs of the Glastonbury community, as it has for many generations.