As the small town Ohio landscape continues to evolve with ever-changing business trends, Yellow Springs has been fortunate enough to maintain its own downtown hardware store for nearly a century. Whether the villagers know him as Deaton’s, Downing’s, or by his current nickname, Yellow Springs Hardware, he continues – at the corner of Xenia Avenue and Short Street – to keep patrons stocked with building materials, bathroom fixtures and accessories. bath and birdseed, among others.
This year, Yellow Springs Hardware will only change hands for the fourth time in its 94-year history: Shep Anderson and Gilah Pomeranz, who bought the store from the Downing family in 2017, announced last month in a letter posted in the News’ Community Forum. section that longtime villager Dan Badger has taken over as new owner.
“We really enjoyed our time here, and truly, it has been an honor to be a part of Yellow Springs’ hardware history,” Anderson told The News in a recent interview.
Pomeranz and Anderson cited several reasons for their decision to pass the torch to Badger: the opening of the Menards mega-store on YS-Fairfield Road, just eight miles away, as well as the online retailer Amazon’s continued threat to small businesses. , were considerations. . Add to that the ongoing pandemic, Anderson said, and it became clear to the couple that a change was imminent.
“It all really changed the game for us, and we knew that for this store to be successful it had to change – it had to be reinvented,” he said. “And we knew it probably wasn’t going to be us.”
Pomeranz said the two took a long weekend away from the store to discuss their future – during which talks included the possibility of shutting down the store entirely. By the time Pomeranz and Anderson returned from their weekend, however, Badger had contacted them regarding his interest in the store.
“He came towards us – it was like it was meant to be,” Pomeranz said. “It was magical.”
Badger said his decision to buy the store – like Anderson and Pomeranz’s decision to sell it – was based in part on the pandemic. Like many, because of the pandemic, he spent more time at home with his wife, Sarah Badger, and son, David.
“We realized how much we enjoyed and enjoyed this time spent together, and it got me thinking about ways to continue after COVID,” said Badger, citing the store’s proximity to Mills Lawn, where David is a student of first year.
Badger previously worked in the restoration of vintage cars and more recently looked after the collection of the America’s Packard Museum in Dayton. After his wife moved to a new job with health benefits, Badger said he was “free to consider many possibilities.” He said he wanted to work to re-engage and strengthen the community of Yellow Springs.
“I said to myself: what would bring me the most joy and the community the best use of me? “,” Badger said. “When you set those parameters as a starting point, you narrow the options down to a very short list, and the hardware store was kind of a natural fit – it’s really a staple of a small town. “
Badger has long been a part of this small town itself; he was born in Cleveland Heights, but moved to The Vale when he was very young after his parents, Jim and Christiane, heard about the intentional community just south of town in a magazine article. His own family now live in The Vale in his childhood home.
Badger said his work in maintaining and repairing vintage cars was boosted by his youth in the village. As a wolf cub, he and his den comrades were taken on an antique plane by villager Jim Hammond.
“And I just started showing up at his house constantly after that,” Badgers said. “He taught me how to build model airplanes, fly airplanes and restore airplanes.”
Badger worked for Hammond for about a decade after graduating from high school, which not only prepared him for the peculiarities of antique restoration, but also taught him how to develop a workflow for solving of problems. He said this foundational learning, acquired in his youth, is part of what fuels his determination to continue the life and success of Yellow Springs Hardware.
“I have a lot of passion to make sure we don’t raise a generation that doesn’t know how to do things,” he said. “It seems like the best anchor to get involved in this work and create these opportunities. “
To this end, Badger’s young son can sometimes be seen helping out in the store; Pomeranz and Anderson, who will be staying at the store for a while to help with the transition, said young David Badger is already somewhat of a customer service ace.
“The other day he showed someone where the sandpaper was, and after he got it, he said, ‘Do you need anything else?’ Said Anderson. “Which is something you often have to train people to do, and he did it naturally.”
Aside from young David, Badger’s father, now retired from teaching at Sinclair College, is going to help out at the store. He will join employees Tammy Duncan and David Cowan, who remain at Yellow Springs Hardware after being hired by Anderson and Pomeranz. He will also remain on staff Wilbur, the store’s resident feline and the occasional shop window decoration.
Upstairs in the Yellow Springs Hardware office, Badger keeps a collection of books against a wall. Among the tomes are a catalog of Valspar paintings and books on inventions and airplanes, as well as works that deal with social psychology and racism. Anderson said this broad interest is part of why he and Pomeranz believe Badger is the right person to continue the mission of a community hardware store.
“We knew that if someone kept the store at the status quo it wouldn’t work, and spending time with it [Badger] – get to know his vision for the store, his passion for Yellow Springs and his skills – he’s the perfect combination, ”said Anderson.
The history of the hardware store itself is also part of Badger’s interests; he said he dived into newspaper articles and other archives to consolidate his knowledge on the subject.
“This company was first and foremost Anderson Hardware,” he said, pointing to the synchronicity of two former owners named Anderson.
“Anderson Hardware existed in the space currently occupied by AC service, and Glenn Deaton… bought this business from the Andersons in 1927 and moved it to that space,” he said.
Badger said his knowledge of the history of the hardware store informed his approach to moving forward with his vision for the store of staying flexible and listening to the community.
“If you look back through old photographs of this store over time, it has had to reinvent itself every few years to stay relevant and meet the needs of the community,” he said.
Badger said one way to meet these needs is to explore the possibility of offering door-to-door delivery. For example, he said, one of the biggest sellers in the store is birdseed, and many of the store’s customers are not only older, but often walk there.
“Expecting an 80-year-old woman to find a way to bring a 50-pound bag of birdseed home is illogical,” he said.
He said he is also considering ways for Yellow Springs Hardware to offer more services outside of retail purchases, such as repair and manufacturing work.
“I already have a well-equipped workshop with a mill, lathe and welder – all the tools needed to build, maintain and restore most things,” he said. “Making these capacities available to the community seems useful. “
Pomeranz added: “And that’s what you won’t get at Menards.”