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February 9, 2009 - 9:38am

Proudly serving the community for 134 years and counting

posted by Timothy Paine in batavia, genesee county, business, buy local.

Seaman's Hardware is Genesee County's oldest family owned business. I spent some time yesterday just browsing through the store and reliving my past. I remembered the many times I went with my Dad to the local Hardware store when I was little. I’d wander the isles just looking at all the things on the shelves and wondering what I could build with them. My Dad is a pretty handy guy, he did everything at home himself. He built a house, barns and sheds. He did plumbing, electric, roofing and mason work. I learned a lot from him, mainly that I prefer to write a check when my house needs repair. (I never was as good at it as he was).

I spoke with Jim Seaman about the history of the Hardware store. He said he is fourth or fifth generation. The reason for this is he can’t find any receipts from Charles. He has the paper trail for Ezra, Web, Gail and himself. Since he doesn’t have any paper evidence of Charles and the sales from the wagon he considers it a fourth generation business. What an enormous accomplishment to keep a family business a float for 134 years. Surviving the Great Depression and who knows how many recessions. Keeping a business in the family through two World Wars and numerous other ones. Just being able to operate any business in this State is remarkable. To keep one this long and under the same name is astonishing. While I was there customers came in one after the other. After every sale Jim came from behind the counter and asked every one how could he help them. Every person was given the same personal attention and guidance towards what they needed. As I walked around and looked at every shelf I was amazed about the shear variety of items they had. Everything from power tools to P-traps to canning pots to ping-pong balls. With my son being a new Scout I picked him up a compass and a pocket knife (he starts working on his whittling badge this week). Even though the store may not appear very large, they seemed to have anything you would expect at real Hardware store.  Through the years he has changed thigs only when his customers wanted it. After all, you don't mess with something that works. Over the years he has added outdoor equipment and tool rentals, maybe a few other things. But he has always stayed true to the old time true Hardware store. If you need it, he's probably got it.

I asked Jim what his theory on success is, and what has lead his business to such a long history in our County. He said his key has been, find out what customers want and make sure you always have it. He continued, offer them more than just a product at a reasonable price. Make sure you give them service and stand behind it. While I was there a gentleman came in for a special light bulb that he happened to be out of stock on. Instead of saying “I’m out of them” he said “I’ll have one for you tomorrow”. He’s right. That’s the difference between selling to a community and serving one. I encourage everyone to stop in and see Jim the next time you’re on Route 5 in East Pembroke. It’s a great place and the biggest example of why it’s good to shop local. You’ll never get Jim’s kind of service at a box store.  They're located at 2602 Main St in E. Pembroke. Ph# 762-9211.

     Seaman's Hardware (Est. 1875) is located on Rte 5 in East Pembroke (just west of Batavia) is Genesee County's oldest family owned business. Charles Seaman and his son Ezra were tin smiths who sold their wares out of a wagon. They eventually built a wooden structure and upgraded to the current brick building in 1916. Part of the original wooden structure is still attached.

I received a bunch of e-mails about businesses around the County. I can use a buch more! If you know a business that's been here a long time, let me know and I'll feature them. Send e-mail to:    [email protected]  Thanks!

JIM NIGRO
JIM NIGRO's picture
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Last seen: 1 year 5 months ago
Joined: Oct 14 2008 - 4:37pm
Tim, this was a great piece - a bit of yesteryear still surviving today - business done with a handshake. Thank you for a small dose of Americana!
Lori Ann Santini
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Last seen: 9 years 7 months ago
Joined: Jan 3 2009 - 11:44am
I love Seaman's Hardware. It reminds me of when I was a child and my dad would take me on special trips to the hardware store in Mt. Morris. Those moments were just for us. He would always take me for ice cream afterwards. Although I don't take my kids out for ice cream after we visit there they also see the appeal. They love to hear the floor creak under their feet. The cat is an added feature too. Every year she(or a close twin) has a litter of kittens. Like clockwork the kids always ask to go down to the hardware store to see them. Sometimes we don't even need to buy anything to be drawn into the store. If you think that the ability of the staff to locate something in the store downstairs is amazing you should see the magic tricks upstairs. I love attics so it is like a treasure hunt up there. I would dare say that there are things up there that are as old as the business itself. Seaman's would make a fortune on tours alone of the upstairs. LOL. I have often overheard conversations from other handy people wondering where they were going to locate an odd part. The answer from the other people is usually Seaman's. Occasionally I will ask how a project turned out and did they find the item they were looking for. The answer is always that Seaman's had it. I am glad to see Seaman's filled the first slot in your series. They deserved it. They have unselfishly supported every conceivable fire department, school field trip and any other group you could imagine. In these times they deserve the attaboy for not being the big box store.

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