The oldest hardware store closes, the oldest art shop hangs on

WORCESTER — The owner of the nation’s oldest art supply store regretted the closure of the nation’s oldest hardware store on Tuesday.

Both stores are in Worcester.

“It’s hard to see a company leave, and when it’s a company with such a history in the city, it’s even harder,” said Kristen Sciascia, owner of CC Lowell Art Supply Co. and Custom Framing, which dates from 1852, noticing the announcement that Elwood Adams Hardware, dating from 1782, will soon be closing.

Elwood Adams Hardware, a downtown landmark at 156 Main Street, said it was closing this month after 235 years. Store management cites changing times, competition from internet sales and the retirement plans of the Cloutier family, owners since 1958. Main Street retailer Shack’s Clothes, founded in 1928, is also set to permanently close its doors.

CC Lowell Art Supply, now located at 455 Pleasant St., has also had a presence in the city for generations, catering to local college art students and, in recent years, artists who have sparked a creative renaissance in the city. .

It’s not easy for a small independent business to survive and thrive in the age of big box stores and the internet, said Ms Sciascia, who took a job with the company in 1995 and took it on. purchased in 2012.

“It’s hard to keep the business fresh and keep changing it, especially when you’re an institution,” she said. “We try to change with what people want.

“For us, we’ve just worked hard to keep going with customer service. We try to be that place where you can get what you need. You don’t have to wait in line for it.

At CC Lowell on Tuesday afternoon, professional framer Jan Johnson, a 12-year-old employee, served a customer who had come to the store to have a matted and framed family heirloom picture of his mother.

A remnant of the past hanging on a wall, a copy of a late 19th or early 20th century photo of the CC Lowell storefront, then on the first floor of the old Masonic Hall at 12 Pearl St.

A more contemporary reflection of the company’s activities was seen in a row of Pow! wow! Worcester Spray Paint Cans: During the town’s recent art festival, muralists transforming city walls came to the store for refills.

“It really is a beloved store,” said Ms Johnson, who said customers have regularly shared memories of the store over generations. She said the store’s files include the artist’s old recipes for mixing paints.

“I think we’re an institution,” she said. “Elwood Adams was too.” She raised her hands.

Current owner Ms. Sciascia recalled how the shop, when it was located at 500 Park Ave., still smelled of linseed oil, used in the treatment of wooden easels. She misses the smell, she says.

She said the store is planning an event later this year to mark its 165th anniversary.

His store is like the small independent bookstore in the age of Amazon. “Everyone likes the idea of ​​having a neighborhood store,” said Ms Sciascia, 45. “It’s about keeping it local. That’s the message. Every sale matters, every nut and every bolt… What can we do that e-commerce can’t?

“It’s really about connections,” she said. “I cannot stress enough that affiliations with other businesses and the community are essential for a small business. You’re not always going to be successful on your pricing, even if you try to be as competitive as possible.

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