Newspaper Archive of
The Ponchatoula Times
Ponchatoula , Louisiana
November 28, 1985     The Ponchatoula Times
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November 28, 1985

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IHardy's Ace Hardware loffers best of old and best of new THE PONCHATOULA TIMES, NOVEMBER 28, 1985, SEC. B., PAGE THREE Staff Report Hardy's Ace Hardware, 177 West e, is an example of how a business m stay in one family for three genera- bns, retain all of its old-time charm Mile modernizing. The Richardson family got into the rdware business when a Mr. Willis Id Wilmer Hardy Richardson I his lardware store, after Richardson oved here from Sunny Hill, Louisiana. He ran the store until his death. His an, Ned. spent his early years living th the family above the hardware re, before moving to the West Oak eet home where Bill and Margaret Wkins and their family currently 'ee store under its first generation of hardsons boasted the first gasoline p in Ponchatoula and offered a Ide range of products, from roofing to Idoors, kitchen appliances of the day, Llrse collars wagon wheels, everything at could be loosely considered hard- lare in the first part of this century. I, Son Ned assumed the helm after aving fought for his country in World War II and returned to the business he had grown up in. Of course, he put his own modern business practices in place, including an vertising program which got him into m ownership role of the first offset rlewspaper in the state. But the second generation Richardson also valued the good old days. He had e old Pine Street balcony reconstructed and added back onto the building in 1975. , He didn't stop there. The entire :ilding was renovated and became an early example of what downtown Ponchatoula could do if it gave itself a telift. Richardson liked the old look and Obviously felt there would be some nefit in preserving it at his family siness. He began a unique wall mural nsisting of antique tools he collected [tom his trips and received from CUstomers. That wall today is one of the tOwn's top tourist attractions. "We have ts of tourists who come in just to see lke old hardware," commented current lner W. Hardy Richardson II, who took over the store from his dad in 1981. He renamed it Hardy's Ace Hard- are in 1984. signalling another generation's modernization of the family business. Richardson is now linked to the Ace hardware cooperative, which means he pools his purchasing power with other Ace Hardware affiliates. This cooperative approach has enabled Richardson to slash his prices, and has opened up a whole catalogue sales department at the store, where you can now order everything from toys to galvanized nails and have them delivered to Ponchatoula within a week, if they are not already on the shelves. "The variety is the biggest change in this business since my" grandfather had it," says the corrent owner. "Take pipes for example. It used to be just galvanized. Now we deal in galvanized, copper and three kinds of plastic piping. It's like that across-the-board." Now a computer screen takes its place on a desk in front of the wall of antique tools and customers can order from microscopic film files projected onto the screen just about anything they could ever need, from camping and boating supplies to specialized har.Jware items. And still the store boasts bins and shelves stocked with a wide variety of items traditionally purchased at the store. The wooden elevator that the original Richardson hardwaresman used to reach his family's living quarters upstairs is still working, albeit with an electric motor now and not the hand cranked assembly it originally had. It is still in many ways the kind of place old men remember visiting as young boys with their fathers on a Saturday morning. The third generation of Richardsons in the hardware are bringing in a new crop of fresh ideas for Ponchatoula's downtown, and a positive attitude about the city's future. "I think the downtown area is trying again to revive. The first time the recession hit us. Now it will be different. We have the Pflanze Hotel renovations, the mayor's promise to replant our oak trees, and a new main street. I feel very positive about our future," said Hardy Richardson. The hotel project he referred to typtified the kind of contribution three generations of Richardsons have presented to the downtown community. Hardy and his wife Paulette have Before the renovation This was the shape downtown Ponchatoula was in in the early 1970"s when the Richardson family tt the pace for downtown renovation transforming the faded facade of the family hardware store into a lhowpiece which attracts nearly as ! any tourists as Ole Hardhide does. ! Ned Richardson liked the old balcony that was in place when he was a little boy living above the store, so when his turn came to run the store after World War !1 one of the first renovations to the building was the reconstruction of the spacious Pine Street balcony, as well as the full restoration of the main street facade. Pace setter for main street improvements joined Douglas and Judy Johnson, Tom and Janice Waterman to purchase and completely renovate the Pflanze Hotel, which only recently was one of the most neglected large building in the city. Thanks to the investment of the six young Ponchatoulans and their families, the old German hotel and restaurant is about to begin a new life as a retail and office complex intend .d to be a real estate and commercial anchor to the entire business community downtown, spurring new business, new jobs, and setting the tone for Poncha- toula future. Hardware museum The computer screen in this photo of the antique tool display on the wall of Hardy's Ace Hardware hints at the progress three generations have made to the family hardware business owned by the Richardson family. (Times Photo) i H, ar, lv's ar./00i, i,a r. H { 386-3 324 'fl HHff SAIfR ! | !i ,k .11 Il lI/----i Itlil-- C21 ... .. . I/ i ', JL l/WCL rllllCi Ol. -- i ,l wib'i Illese energy im., I / STREET OPENING SPECIALS c, ! ' " " " 1 oo : : ,/ : 39 Roach Proof ................................................................... 5 '9 , ,, IX ........................... I I inc00 Oo,v,n,ze00 ..................................... '9"001,o0,,n:2 Vl g 1" m--- mne mm m-: re&l- i--" nit .. K-1 !'ViPi'! " ,# ?00"tiiT, i Large erosene!, li ,j :I "i']t !i It,41 :i I seleion ---- ,t),! Pipelnsuiationi,' -- (,j Kergene Ii " P !i Heaters i! ii & Heat Cables ' , , - . Gas & Wood Nuts and Bolts ' I Fireplace Equl p ment Heaters Caulking" ' I Grates & Screens  Paint ] - -  " !1 Air Filters I i