For many of the mom-and-pop shops of today, times are hard on the boulevard and the latest casualty is North Shore Hardware.
The longtime neighborhood staple and appliance store, located at 252-11 Northern Blvd. in Little Neck, will officially close its doors at the end of the month.
After July, customers will be forced to travel elsewhere to pick up power tools, plumbing supplies, building materials, cleaning products and other household appliances.
The closing will end nearly 70 years of business at the store — the first 20 or so were spent in Great Neck before it moved to the soon-to-be closed Northern Boulevard location in the 1970s.
The end of this era has been a contemplative time for longtime store owner Michael Steinberg.
Steinberg said that his business used to support between 15-20 employees at once compared to only two who work there now.
He also said that the most difficult struggles for the business in recent years have been paying rent, telephone bills, insurance, Con Edison and other monthly expenses.
Last month, North Shore Hardware was told that it would no longer be able to renew its month-to-month lease. Nevertheless, Steinberg said that even though he was given only a month to vacate, he has no hard feelings toward the landlord.
“The greatest lesson I learned working in this business is that there is no better feeling than helping a customer and having them be satisfied with the product,” said Steinberg, who has been involved in the business for upwards of 50 years between both locations.
“It’s not about making money - it’s about providing service to the community when they need assistance and are in demand of supplies. This is really sad because over the years these customers became like my extended family.”
Steinberg, who was born in Brooklyn but moved to Bayside in 1950, has been the owner of the North Shore Hardware for the last 32 years. His late father, William Steinberg, started the business in the late 1950s at 43 Middle Neck Road in Great Neck along with his brother Joe.
Michael’s father William was the owner of both locations before passing the family business down to Michael over 30 years ago. North Shore Hardware left its initial Great Neck location for Little Neck in the mid-late ‘70s.
Steinberg’s good friend and longtime colleague Dave Mendez has worked at the North Shore Hardware’s Little Neck location for 35 years.
Steinberg said that he will look for a job at another hardware store when his family business closes down for good. In the meantime, he will reflect on the memories of the business with his wife Candice and his two sons, Eryk and Scott.
“Our customers are sad, we are sad, but looking back, we had a great run and we can only thank the community for that,” Steinberg said.
The Great Neck location was once visited by former New York Yankees Hall of Fame pitcher Whitey Ford, when Ford lived in Lake Success.
The location of the hardware store is expected to be replaced with a Shabu Shabu, a Japanese restaurant chain, which should open in the fall.
The shuttering of North Shore Hardware is just one of several long-lasting businesses on Northern Boulevard to close, along with Scobees Grill, the Little Neck Movie Theater and the old Acme Bowling Alley, contributing to a trend of more and more vacant storefronts on the thoroughfare.
MovieWorld in Douglaston Plaza also closed earlier this month after 35 years.
Reach Steven Goodstein by e-mail at sgood