A BUILDING WITH HISTORY
The North Country is a region rich with unique history. Follow the clues and you’re destined to learn something about our area that you never realized was sitting in plain sight. At the center of Peru, NY, you can find a stone building with “1856” carved in plain sight on a block about half- way up the structure’s front side. It’s a building with rich history of its own and is home to one of the North Country’s true “Mom & Pop” shops.
Peru Hardware, owned by Wendy and Bob Silverman, is a local business that has continued to serve the North Country for over 70 years. Prior to the very beginning of Peru Hardware, however, the building served a dual purpose in the community. It was both a mortuary and a movie theatre. This changed in 1946 when Percy and Lula Brown converted the building into Peru Hardware.
SUPPORTING THE FARMERS OF PERU
Business was good throughout the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. It was the age of small business after WWII and was “long before the days of the big box stores,” said Wendy. Peru was a vibrant farming town and Peru Hardware became a reliable source for supplies at the end of the day. In particular, the business became an end-of-day gathering spot for the farmers to socialize, catch up with neighbors, and get the materials they would need for the next day. “Farmers wouldn’t make the trip to the store during the day… they would finish a full day’s work and then make one trip into town,” said Wendy.
Eventually, the original owners’ son, Doug Brown, took on the business with his wife, Helen, in 1963. For the next few decades, the “Mom & Pop” tradition would continue at Peru Hardware. In 1985, Wendy (Doug and Helen’s daughter) bought Peru Hardware with her husband, Bob. Wendy and Bob Silverman have owned and operated the business ever since.
“Things just kind of fell into place at the time,” said Wendy.
DIFFERENTIATED BY EXCEPTIONAL CUSTOMER SERVICE
“We’re a true Mom & Pop,” said Wendy. In the age of internet sales, small businesses like Peru Hardware must continue to differentiate and add value to their customers in ways that sellers online cannot. “There’s still a need for product knowledge,” said Wendy.
Wendy and Bob have a time-tested system in place for keeping the business in great shape. Wendy takes care of all the paperwork, finances, and most in-store customers. Bob, on the other hand, is a service guru. He helps customers complete regular maintenance and repairs on plumbing, electrical, and appliances.
The true distinguishing hallmark is their joint commitment to customers. “People have called us up at 12:30 at night,” said Wendy. “Their sump pump is broken and they want help.” In these instances, the Silvermans have opened the doors to the store to help their customers meet an urgent need. “I’ve met customers at the store at 3 a.m. before,” admitted Bob.
TRUE NORTH COUNTRY NEIGHBORS
It’s no easy task to maintain a successful small retail business in an ever-changing global economy where the Walmarts and Amazons of the world continue to duke it out. However, for Peru Hardware, the future is bright.
Both Wendy and Bob love the community and the lifestyle that comes with it. Neither have any intention of retiring or selling the business anytime soon. As Wendy sees it, the typical “snowbird” lifestyle isn’t in the game plan for them.
Their daughter could be the next-generation owner of the business, but Wendy and Bob don’t anticipate that will be the case. She has created a world of great opportunities for herself, making the Dean’s List every semester in college so far, working three part-time jobs, and graduating with a degree in Accounting, Business, and Management. According to Wendy and Bob, their daughter’s hard work has locked her in for a job upon graduation.
For now, Wendy and Bob are excited to see what the future holds and they plan to “just keep plugging along.” “I intend to work forever,” said Bob. “We’re very lucky to be where we are,” added Wendy.