Friday, December 12, 2014

Historic Hardware Stores and Christmas Time

My 2nd great-uncle owned a hardware store in Pittsburgh's Mt. Washington neighborhood from about 1898 until his death in 1936. For those of you familiar with the area, it was right on Grandview Avenue in the building that later became the well-known Cliffside Restaurant. The hardware store was on the main floor, and my uncle and his family lived upstairs.

A Christmas ad from 1908 in The Mount Washington and Duquesne Heights News shows that his holiday gift suggestions were carvers, pocket knives, mantles, reflex lights, ice skates, sleds and globes. Some of the same items are in this ad from the Internet Archive Book Images for a Canadian hardware company:

Genealogy: Ads in Historic Publications

Hardware and Metal (Toronto, Canada), November 19, 1910

In Google Books, I found a great paragraph from Hardware, dated December 10, 1906, that shows some of the product decisions my 2nd great-uncle had to consider at Christmas time:
"The up-to-date Hardware dealer makes as much preparation for the selling of holiday goods as other merchants these days. Years ago the dullest period of the season for the Hardwareman was Christmas time, now it is one of the busiest. The merchant should lay in some attractive novelties. The cutlery stock should be tastily displayed. Carving sets and plated-ware are always salable Christmas time, if the goods are shown attractively and advertised unstintedly. ... Many of the stores are selling children's vehicles; there is good profit in the line and the Hardware store is a good place of distribution. Sporting goods is another line that should be pushed forward during the holidays, as every boy in the land wants a gun for Christmas and guns from a pop-gun to a rifle should be kept in order to satisfy all demands. There are hundreds of novelties that the Hardware store can sell at this time and make a good profit."
Just another reminder that you can learn more about an ancestor's business, life, or town by searching publications and newspapers.

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