Saturday, May 30, 2015

One Last Look: Walkersville's T.R. Saylor & Company Hardware Store (1903-2015)

NOTICE: All Rights Reserved by Chris Hamby Films/Chris Hamby Enterprises.
T.R. Saylor & Co. (True Value) Hardware, January 2015
(featured in Hood College's "Home" photograph
exhibition in February 2015).
NOTICE: All Rights Reserved by Chris Hamby Films/Chris Hamby Enterprises.
END OF AN ERA: T.R. Saylor & Co.,
"Going Out of Business" (May 29, 2015).
"It ain't just paint."  -Tagline for Martin Paint, a New York-based hardware and paint retailer, which was in business from 1942 to 1996.  Martin Paint was one of the longtime sponsors of The Joe Franklin Show.

END OF AN ERA: At The Matinee shifts gears from the field of classic, cult and contemporary cinema to the local hardware store.  In these times (especially in Frederick County, Maryland)- local hardware stores are virtually obsolete, thanks to the monstrosity of boring "big box" hardware retailers in the Frederick area.

Unfortunately, this year marks the end of an era for a local hardware retailer in the same hometown where my classic film blog originates from.

T.R. Saylor & Company, which has been part of the Walkersville community for over 112 years, is closing its doors for good.  The business was established by Thomas Ralph "T.R." Saylor in 1903.

Throughout the years, not only did it operate as a hardware and paint store- it also operated as a service station, with their noticeable vintage Shell gas pump(which was still on display outside long after the store discontinued selling gasoline, the store's owners removed the vintage gas pump several years ago).  The store was affiliated with American Hardware Supply, which later became ServiStar, which merged with the parent company of True Value Hardware in 1997, making T.R. Saylor & Company part of the True Value network of local and regional hardware retailers.

As one walked into T.R. Saylor & Company, it was much more than a local hardware store. Customers received friendly and knowledgeable service- which is a rarity these days.

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Vintage General Electric (GE)
lighting display rack inside T.R. Saylor & Co.
Not only did Walkersville's local hardware store carry the latest in hardware and garden equipment, they also carried rare items that have been on the shelf for years- including a vintage GE "hot lather" shaving cream dispenser, a Black & Decker electric shoe polisher, along with bulk mint-condition Memorex blank VHS tapes (dating back to the late 1980s, still in its original shrink wrap).  Some items still had vintage "American Hardware" or "Servistar" price stickers.

I first heard about the closing when I received a letter in the mail from the store earlier this months (on the day of final exam for my "Screen Craft" class at Hood), announcing that the store would close for good.   One of several factors was that the current owners wanted to retire, another was the opening of Lowe's at the "Clemson Corner" shopping center in 2011.  In this writer's view, Frederick did not need another grungy, boring and depressing "Lowe's" location (along with the sprawl on Route 26).

Earlier this year, I photographed the storefront of T.R. Saylor & Company, for my Hood College photojournalism class project, in relation to the theme of "home."  My picture was featured in the Hood "home" exhibition, and received positive praise from fellow friends, students, instructors, spectators and art lovers.  I was hoping that my picture in the  exhibition would help bring in more business for the store.

Even though T.R. Saylor & Co. will be no more, the name will be with the now-defunct local hardware stores of the region- including Ingalls Lumber of Middletown (which was associated with American Hardware/Servistar and True Value until its demise) , and May's Hardware in Frederick.

With the demise of T.R. Saylor & Co., Woodsboro's N.Z. Cramer & Son is one of the last locally-owned hardware and lumber retailers in the region.

Farewell to T.R. Saylor & Co.  It won't be the same without a "real" hardware store in the area.

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