From horses and buggies traveling down the road to motor vehicles, the Williamston True Value Hardware store has lasted for over 100 years on 139 South Putnam St.
The business first began with Rev. Alfred Allen in the late 1800s under the name A. Allen & Company and though it wasn’t the only hardware store around, it was the first specialty hardware store in the city of Williamston, according to a news release that is posted inside of the store.
The name has changed from owner to owner about four times over the years, but “Williamston True Value Hardware,” which was given by owners Barb and Jim Vanderberg, has stood strong since 1997.
The current manager of the store Jenny Brouwer, who has been an employee for 10 years, said this is the only building in the city that is still the building it was built to be.
“We started off as a hardware store and we still are a hardware store,” Brouwer said.
Brouwer said there are updates that have to be done from time to time, but for the most part the buildings antiqueness from the basement to the attic is kept the same.
“For the building that it is and as old as it is, it’s always had good owners that have respected its history and not change it,” she said.
One of the biggest updates the business has had was in 1917, when owners expanded the business next door to the post office, creating space for more tools, paint, and hardware to be sold.
Customer Edward Blackwell said he comes in the store at least twice a month because they’ve provided all of his homecare needs since he
moved to Williamston a couple of years ago.
“The people here are very helpful and their supplies get the job done,” Blackwell said.
Blackwell said the city of Williamston has everything he needs so he never has to leave and the hardware store is a great addition that could be the very reason a homeowner stays.
While most buildings in downtown Williamston have apartments above their businesses, True Value decided to recycle the vintage look from years ago and just use the upstairs for storage.
“They’ve managed to keep everything in here so when you buy the store, this is all of the store. As bad as it looks it still stays here,” Brouwer said.
Brouwer said the owners of the business are currently working on their other hardware store in Fowlerville, which use to be a theater. They’ve recently bought the dentist office next door and they will be expanding that location as well.
Williamston True Value Hardware employee Jim, who preferred to not reveal his last name, has worked for the business for 20 years and said they continue to be successful because of the loyal customers.
Jim said they have customers who have children that bring their children, who bring their children.
Brouwer said, “You can get three generations coming in all at the same time.”
Jim said the people in their store enjoy each other and although the older, loyal customers are beginning to pass as time goes by, it is up to their children to continue the home owning path their parents have paved.