If you bought or used tools in the pre-internet days then you know Seven Corners Hardware, a traditional hardware store in St. Paul, Minnesota, that was a major player in the mail order tool business. I remember seeing their full-page ads in magazines like Fine Woodworking and Wooden Boat. Like other tool-obsessed tradesmen, the first thing I did when an issue arrived was look at the ads from Seven Corners Hardware, Tool Crib, and other mail order vendors. Many of those companies have fallen by the wayside—victims of the big box stores and Amazon. Somehow, Seven Corners Hardware survived. I have friends in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and all of them—contractors and homeowners alike—are crushed that this business is closing (but being Minnesotans, they’re stoic about it). To a person, they told me they shopped Seven Corners Hardware because it carried items that could not be found in big box stores and was staffed by long-time employees who really knew their stuff (video below).
What happened? According to news reports and what I’ve been told by friends in Minnesota, what Amazon and the big box stores couldn’t do, generational change and real estate prices did. Seven Corners Hardware is a three-generation family-owned store that has been in business since 1933. The founder and his son spent their careers at the store; a contractor friend said that even though they ran the store they’d help behind the counter when things were busy. The current owner is the grandson of the founder; he worked in the store for a time but later moved to Southern California where he became involved in another line of work. His son is in college and does not want to work in the family hardware business.
Rising real estate prices gave the owner an out. Seven Corners Hardware occupies a prime piece of property in an area that is changing due to an influx of restaurants and entertainment venues. The land became so valuable that the owner decided it was time to sell. He signed an agreement with an undisclosed buyer who it is rumored plans to build a hotel on the site of the hardware store and an adjacent parcel of land.
Seven Corners Hardware is scheduled to close in June and will be holding going out of business sales between now and then. This is a sad day for hardware. If you have any memories of Seven Corners Hardware (or old-time hardware stores) please share them in the comments section below.