Family business takes on a whole new level of meaning when it comes to Parkhurst Hardware
There are many shops in the ‘burbs which have reached institutional status – Parkhurst Hardware is one such. Located on trendy 4th Ave in Parkhurst (obviously) alongside the pavement cafes and eateries where the beautiful people quaff cappuccinos and sip cocktails, (or is it the other way around?), this business has been going for over 70 years. Quite a record for a town where development is rampant and chain stores and huge indoor malls swallow the small ‘Mom and Pop’ stores at an alarming rate.
And although maybe not a Mom and Pop store, Parkhurst Hardware is certainly a Pop, Son and Son store. Started in the late 40s (Parkhurst as a suburb really ‘took off’ post World War II), the business was bought by George Janssens in 1976 when his son, Sean was 12. Local residents, as well as Parkhurst Hardware patrons from further afield, will be familiar with Sean at his seat … always behind the 2nd counter on the right; Michael (who has been with them for 18 years) at the key-cutting counter; and Doggie (Sean’s brother), usually at the first counter. And NOTHING is too much trouble for them: lock-picking my petty cash tin, testing random batteries that have been lying on my desk being stared at for 6 months, cutting small pieces of rubber netting and mosquito mesh for texture-effects in art works. None of this can be seen as a great injection to their cash flow – but it’s always done in a laid-back generous spirit. It is this constancy and helpful service (looking after the small clients), that explains part of the business’ success.
When Sean came of the army in 1983/4, his Dad asked him to help out and the rest, as they say, ‘is history’. And now his son, Steven (aka Bonez) has been in the business for 10 years.
Some years back a local resident found, in a recently deceased relative’s belongings, a pile of saved invoices from the 1960s, all from Parkhurst Hardware. He brought them in to Sean, who, with his clear attachment to history and tradition, had them framed. Those were the days when 1/2 a pint of black enamel cost 47c and a bottle of raw linseed oil cost 45c. A total bill of 92c! And 6 bottles of paraffin for 48c and a bottle of meths 23c . Total: 71c!!
This is an unusual, commendable and heart-warming scenario in the days of change, anonymity and on-line purchasing; along with the resulting sad move away from small local business entrepreneurship. My heart sank when I saw the opening of Starbucks, the international coffee house chain, also in 4th Avenue. I have to admit however, that my disdain is a little hypocritical as I am only too pleased when I see how well Nando’s has done internationally. But in the case of Nando’s, with their head office still in Lorentzville, their investment in South African arts and crafts, and their irreverent marketing and advertising, I do forgive their international expansion!
Well done Parkhurst Hardware and your team.