New­town Hard­ware House of­fi­cially CHANGHS HANDS

The Advance of Bucks County - - NEWTOWN AREA - By Pe­tra Ch­es­ner Sch­lat­ter

NEW­TOWN BOR­OUGH – The his­toric New­town Hard­ware House on State Street of­fi­cially changed hands on Mon­day, pass­ing from long­time owner-op­er­a­tor Dave Cal­la­han to its new owner, New­town Bor­ough res­i­dent Bill Newell.

“It just seemed ter­ri­bly sad to let this go with­out a fight,” Newell said on Mon­day. “If it wasn’t go­ing to be me -- who else could? I thought I’d give it a shot.”

Cal­la­han, who pur­chased the store from Bob Davis in 1985, was days away from liq­ui­dat­ing his store when Newell stepped for­ward and of­fered him a deal he couldn’t refuse.

The Hard­ware House owner has watched as the heart and soul of his cus­tomer base - small build­ing con­trac­tors and farm­ers - have dwin­dled due to the eco­nomic con­di­tions im­pact­ing the hous­ing and build­ing in­dus­try.

On Mon­day, as the sale was fi­nal­ized, Cal­la­han couldn’t help but be emo­tional. “I was a lit­tle sad this morn­ing be­cause of course it’s been my life here for al­most 28 years,” he said. “The good side is I’ll be re­tir­ing and also I will still be here a few days a week,” he said. “It will be good to still have my hand in the hard­ware busi­ness.”

Cal­la­han, who said he is look­ing for­ward to work­ing with the new owner on a part-time ba­sis, said he’d “like to thank the community for all the sup­port they’ve given me all the years. I cer­tainly ap­pre­ci­ate some of the friends I’ve made. I hope to still see the peo­ple I’ve got­ten to know.”

Cal­la­han con­tin­ued, “It’s been won­der­ful here. Most all of the peo­ple I’ve met have been ter­rific peo­ple. That’s just the way the community is.”

While Cal­la­han will “keep his hand in the hard­ware busi­ness,” he also will give him­self a small break. He and his wife, Mary, will take a one-week va­ca­tion to Mas­sachusetts and Maine, where they’ve been go­ing for 20 years.

“It’s a lit­tle late in the sea­son,” he said. “But with ev­ery­thing go­ing on here I had to hold off.”

Tak­ing a mo­ment to re­flect back on his time at the Hard­ware House, Cal­la­han has plenty of sto­ries to tell. But one of his fa­vorites is when the pre­vi­ous owner ad­vised him to learn all of the cus­tomers’ names in one week.

“Some­times I’d look at them and I’d al­most panic be­cause I couldn’t re­mem­ber their name,” he said with a chuckle. “As soon as I re­laxed I re­mem­bered. Af­ter a few months, I re­ally knew ev­ery­one’s name.”

Cal­la­han said a few weeks ago when the community learned the store would be chang­ing hands, he said that peo­ple feared ev­ery­thing in the store would change.

“I think they’ll be pleas­antly sur­prised,” he said. “The community will ap­pre­ci­ate the things they can do here … All busi­nesses need changes. I think it’s go­ing to be a breath of fresh air.”

Newell, who is bring­ing years of ex­pe­ri­ence to the Hard­ware House as a life­long busi­ness­man, in­vestor and owner-op­er­a­tor of busi­nesses across the United States, as­sures the community that the store is “al­ways go­ing to be a hard­ware store. We have loyal cus­tomers.”

Newell said it is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that the hard­ware store has op­er­ated con­tin­u­ously since the 1860s. “That’s phe­nom­ena!”

“We don’t want to alien­ate any­one or let any­one think we’re not go­ing to be in the hard­ware store [busi­ness],” he said. “But with Home De­pot and other stores, the world has changed.”

Newell said peo­ple are “not go­ing to pa­tron­ize the store be­cause it’s nos­tal­gic. We will of­fer things our com­pe­ti­tion can­not or will not.”

“Quite unique” new items will be added to the in­ven­tory, he said. “We have to re­al­ize as much as ev­ery­one likes the store, the store has to sur­vive on its own merit,” he said. “And to do that it’s got to pro­vide ser­vices and prod­ucts that con­sumers find valu­able.

“We will do some things and have things peo­ple can’t get else­where,” he said.

Dur­ing the com­ing weeks, Newell said he will be re­ly­ing heav­ily on Cal­la­han for ad­vice. Cal­la­han will be work­ing with the new owner for at least the short term to make sure the new op­er­a­tion gets off “on the right foot.”

He de­scribes Cal­la­han as “a won­der­ful man. He’s been a real as­set to the community in his role as owner and op­er­a­tor [of the hard­ware store]. Those who live in the bor­ough or nearby owe him a debt of grat­i­tude.”

Newell said he stepped for­ward to buy the hard­ware store be­cause it is “an im­por­tant icon you iden­tify with liv­ing here.”

Photo by Pe­tra Ch­es­ner Sch­lat­ter

Dave Cal­la­han, right, owner/op­er­a­tor of New­town Hard­ware House has fi­nal­ized the sale of his busi­ness on State Street in New­town Bor­ough. Em­ploy­ees pic­tured with him are, from left: Harry Winick, Eric Boice, Sue Long, Walt War­dle and Cal­la­han.

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