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Alexandria Realtor saves ‘Del Ray Hardware’ store from closing

Jay Portlance, owner of Del Ray Hardware at 2003 Mount Vernon Avenue (staff photo by James Cullum)

A local hardware store in Del Ray that was in danger of closing just got saved by an Alexandria realtor.

Jay Portlance bought Executive Lock and Key Service from Chris Harvey just before Christmas for $150,000 and reopened it as Del Ray Hardware on New Year’s Day. The store at 2003 Mount Vernon Avenue first opened in the mid-1990s, and the former owner told us in October that he was going to close the business unless he found a buyer by the end of the year.

‘We don’t need another restaurant and clothing store,” Portlance said. “This is primo real estate right here. Part of my objective was to protect it, and the only way I can ensure that was by buying it.”

Portlance says he contacted Harvey in November and closed on the deal on Dec. 22. Between then and the day the store reopened, Portlance and his small staff worked 15 hour days cleaning and reorganizing. They ended up freeing up about 450-square-feet of new space, Portlance said.

Portlance wants to add plants and potentially a garden center.

Gary Harvey managed the sale and said that his brother is getting used to a new routine of working as a locksmith from his garage.

“It worked out real well,” Gary Harvey said. “Sure, it hurts when you get rid of something. My brother was there for nearly 30 years. It was a part of his life and it takes a little while to get over that.”

A D.C. native, Portlance has been a realtor for nearly a decade. He got to know Chris Harvey over the last several years while renovating his house in Warwick Village.

“He knew every single time I had a flooded basement or electrocuted myself,” Portlance said.

Portlance spoke to customers during the interview, and said he is in it for the “long haul.”

“I’ll be here as long as the neighborhood wants me,” he told us.

Just then, George Brown, the owner of Probuilders LLC, who was in the ship looking to buy a very particular screw to fix an old cabinet drawer, said: “Well, the neighborhood is going to want you, buddy. I’m going to be here all the time.”

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