Spirit of Alabama: Celebrating 114 years at Anders Hardware
As best we can tell, the oldest continually operating business in Alabama is Bromberg’s Jewelry in Birmingham, which opened for business in 1836, a mere 15 years after the state became a state.
Not far behind is another business that’s been run by the same family and in the same location for 114 years, right on Main Street in Northport: Anders Hardware.
The walls are decorated with pictures featuring a great-great uncle, great-great grandfather, grandfather and father who ran the place long before it was Rich Ander’s turn.
Rich said he was fortunate to train under his father, who taught him a whole lot more than the hardware business.
“My dad is just amazingly committed,” Rich Anders said. “He has a work ethic like no other. He taught me that consistency and hard work. I’ll still call my Dad, ‘you know,’ this month is down a little…’ ‘Don’t worry about it, you know in the past this is what happened.’ He still provides a lot of encouragement.”
Rodger Anders was an Army lieutenant leading a platoon in the Vietnam War in 1969 and 1970. There was no good year to be in Vietnam, but those were some of the toughest. After being stuck in a war zone, the ups and downs of retail doesn’t rattle you much.
Rich Anders said that optimism and calmness helped him deal with any challenge that reared its head.
Visiting Anders Hardware today something of a journey in hardware history. It’s amazing how many items are there, and there’s a lot you won’t find in a big-box retailer.
Anders specializes in hard to find items, like tools and hardware you’d need to repair something brand new or centuries old. Rich Anders said their customers know that and appreciate their knowledge.
“We believe that’s it’s important to repair not throw away,” Rich Anders said. “There are a lot of times that you may only need one screw or one washer to fix that plumbing fixture and we’ll have it. We’re known for that, these repairmen know that, our local community knows that. They can come here and get that one thing that they need.”
Finding exactly what a customer needs requires a wealth of knowledge, and acquiring that takes time.
J.R. Lipscomb has worked at Anders Hardware for five years, and he’s still learning something new every day. But he knows he can call on other employees who have been there longer, and it’s his home away from home.
“I’ll tell you, working here the Anders have treated us all like family,” Lipscomb said. “The relationships that we build with our customers is amazing. It’s outstanding, it really is.”
Main Street in Northport has changed a lot since the store opened in 1909, but Anders Hardware is still in business today because they have a great inventory and keep customer service as their top priority, Rich Anders said.
“That is the top thing,” he said. “That’s why we’re still here 114 years later is because of that. Customer service is the most important thing we do.”
Consistency is a big part of the history at Anders Hardware. Hopefully, the family will celebrate many more years of good business in downtown Northport.
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