(Updated 10/13) Chris Harvey is retiring and hopes to sell his hardware store in Del Ray as-is before the end of the year. If that doesn’t happen, he plans on selling all his merchandise at deeply discounted rates.
Chris and his brother Gary Harvey opened Executive Lock & Key Service at 2003 Mount Vernon Avenue in the mid 1990s. Chris runs the business now and Gary says he’s been trying to get his brother to retire for years.
“Hopefully I can sell it and pass the torch, because everyone in town doesn’t want us to leave,” Chris said. “Put your money together. I don’t want that much. You get half a dozen guys together and you have your workforce right there. And you all say ‘Hey, we’re the owners of a hardware store,’ and you can drink your latte and go up and down the street.”
The Harveys are T.C. Williams High School graduates and got into the hardware store business in 1986 by opening locations in Crystal City. One of their True Value stores was only 800 square feet, and Gary says it was the smallest store in the country.
“They had a 550-square-foot location in Chicago that burned down, so we took the title after that happened,” Gary said. “We had a unique clientele and we didn’t sell lawnmowers or chainsaws. We made it cutting keys and selling picture hooks and little hammers and stuff.”
Chris said that he’ll keep his rolodex of 400 customers for his key-making business, which will continue on more of a freelance basis, he said.
“I’m going to miss it, especially all the customers,” Chris said. “It’s all I’ve known, getting up early and going to work, and I like to BS with folks. I’m a BS-er. My dad was military, so if we wanted things in life we had to work. From the time I was a snotty nosed kid, I was out on a paper route, cutting grass, raking leaves.”
The small neighborhood hardware store is full of merchandise, which Chris says he will discount and sell off unless he can find a new owner to take it as-is.
“But if you’re going to buy it, you’re gonna have to commit,” he said. “I’ve had a couple of people who backed out the last minute and I told them they they wouldn’t fit in because they knew nothing about hardware. You got to be married to the business and be ready to not get home for dinner all the time. You’ve got to begin here in the trenches and be passionate about helping people.”
H/t to John Antonelli
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