Five generations after its founder first opened its doors, a locally owned and operated hardware store is one of the oldest in the country still operating and expanding.
Opened in 1886, Phillips Hardware currently has six stores operating in the Capital District and 45 employees — some having worked there for as long as 35 years.
The president, Jon Phillips, has been in charge for 24 years, but hadn’t always planned on running the store. He was going to school for a degree in social work when his father showed up at his fraternity house and asked him for help. Phillips said that his social work education plays an integral role in how they conduct their business.
“I started as a social worker and still have the passion to help others, and that rolls into our philosophy of running a business,” said Phillips.
He said his family-run business differs from box stores in many ways. First, he carries seasonal items year round unlike some stores, which only carry them for a few months. For example, Phillip’s carries 30 different snow shovels, while franchise stores typically hold only three or four.
Aside from all the basic hardware necessities for home improvements and building projects, Phillips’ offers small engine repair, propane pick-up and delivery, and free pool water testing. Many of the Phillip’s stores also offer niche items such as Carhart clothing, Georgia Boots and Stihl landscaping equipment.
Providing friendly service is one of the company’s primary goals, and Phillips said his business philosophy is “taking care of our customers the way we want to be taken care of.”
The store has a “two no” policy. If two people in the store can’t find an item or say the store doesn’t hold the item, the employees will call their competitors or special order the item.
Phillips also has more than 1,000 commercial accounts, which employees monitor to make sure the contractors have the proper tools and parts to perform every job they do.
On top of the niche items the store offers, Phillips said he’s most proud of, “the services we offer and our commitment to our community.”
Phillips is on the PAL board, has been a Little League president for 13 years and also holds a Stride walk/run that raised $15,000 last year — he’s hoping to eventually break the $50,000 mark. The store also participates in Strawberry Fest, the Bethlehem Summer Solstice on the Rail Trail and works with the Park Playhouse in Albany.
For more information or to find a store nearby, visit www.shopphillips.com.