VENTNOR — At 5 feet 2 inches tall, Ivy Shore Rosenberg wears heels to work every day to reach the top shelves at the hardware store started by her father and grandfather 62 years ago.
Rosenberg, who with her 76-year-old mother, Harriet Shore, runs Arrow True Value Hardware on Ventnor Avenue, says there are challenges in this typically male-dominated industry.
“People will say, ‘Oh hun, I’ll get that.’ And I’ll say, ‘I’m fine. I have four kids. My oldest is a 6 foot 5 boy. If I can handle him, I can handle anything,’” said Rosenberg, 49, of Egg Harbor Township.
The hardware store is in the midst of a transformation — part of it to make items more accessible by lowering shelves and shortening aisles, part of it recovering from Hurricane Sandy.
“We’re a women team in a man’s world. We’re in a hardware store. We hear what our customers say, and they all want it to be more women friendly,” said Rosenberg, a former teacher who got back involved in the family business in 2009.
Ivy Shore Rosenberg said she was making keys since age 7. Harriet Shore was brought into the business once she married her husband, the late Alvin Shore.
The hardware store has long ties to the area.
“We have our little niche. … We know everybody, they know us. It’s like Cheers,” she said.
Rosenberg said some customers still call it “Al’s hardware,” for her father Alvin Shore, who died in 1996.
Alvin Shore, originally of Philadelphia, was 21 years old when his father, Samuel, a hardware wholesaler, took him for what he originally thought was a leisurely Sunday drive to Ventnor.
“He came out in the car and said, ‘Son, I bought you a store,’ and he didn’t let him come home,” Harriet Shore recalled on a recent afternoon from behind the register at the store.
“He stayed in the apartment above the store with the people who lived there,” she said. (His father) said, ‘Mom and I will bring your clothes tomorrow.’ His mom always believed a man has to have one of two things — he either has to be educated at school or have a skill, a trade. She said times are tough, education’s expensive. We’re putting you in business, and that’s what they did.”
The Ventnor hardware store witnessed major shifts in the region and the industry itself as major chains such as Home Depot and Lowe’s arose as daunting new competition to independents.
“You have to look at it as a challenge, you can’t look at it as fear,” Rosenberg said. “You have the opportunity to spend your money anywhere. I have to make you want to come to me. I have to offer great service at a fair price with a friendly staff.”
Attracting customers — making it convenient for them and keeping them from seeking larger stores on the mainland — remains a major factor in the business, she said.
“It’s the most convenient place in Ventnor to shop,” said John Davis, 64, of Marmora, Upper Township, who shopped at the store on a recent weekday.
The hardware store is bringing in a new paint line, Valspar, as another means to compete, even though the decision constitutes a major investment in new inventory, software and machines, Rosenberg said.
Meanwhile, the hardware store is supplying some of the items that are rebuilding the area from Hurricane Sandy.
The first phase was cleanup products such as heavy-duty contractor garbage bags and shovels. This is now the repair stage as homes are rebuilt, remodeled and repainted, Rosenberg said.
The hardware store itself was damaged from Hurricane Sandy, which closed it for a week and a half and put the credit card machine out of operation for nearly three weeks, she said.
But the business still accepted credit during those times, even without the machine.
“Many times (during that period), I said to people, ‘Give me your name and number.’ I trusted them,” she said. “Everyone I trusted came back and paid me.”
Arrow True Value Hardware
Location: 6415 Ventnor Ave., Ventnor
Owner: Harriet Shore, 76, of Ventnor
Revenue: Not disclosed
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