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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Iconic Downtown Business Closes Doors For Good

Fairhope, Alabama



310 Fairhope Avenue today

FAIRHOPE HARDWARE IS NO MORE

Bill Baldwin Sr.
The Times has learned that the Fairhope Hardware store has closed its doors for the last time -- and remaining merchandise will be auctioned off on June 25th during an online auction.

The store was owned and operated since the early 1970s by Bill Baldwin Sr. -- who passed away last March at age 80.

Criticized by some for being "disorganized" -- most locals agreed that is exactly what made it so special; separated it from its sterile, corporate big-box competitors.

The Times remembers Baldwin Sr. as a quiet, friendly man always at his store and willing to help; a hound dog often laying on the floor nearby.


ORIGINAL 'PEOPLE'S STORE'
closed 

The building at 310 Fairhope Avenue was completed in 1922 and originally housed the Single Tax Corporation's  'Peoples Cooperative' general merchandise store -- which sold everything from "shoes to plowshares" according to historians; community meetings and other social functions were held in the spacious upstairs auditorium as well.

A Freds, Pigggly Wiggly, Hammond's Grocery, and a Blue Dollar store occupied the building over the years as well, according to a local historian.


BUILDING'S FUTURE UNCERTAIN

Sources say the heirs have not yet decided what to do with the building itself: leasing or remodeling into smaller units are options.  A well-known local developer has expressed interest in purchasing the property as well.

When informed of the closure by a Times reporter, one existing downtown business expressed interest in re-locating.

(We were told the aluminum facade was added to the brick building in the late 1970s)


ca 1920s

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

Around 1970 it was a pharmacy, I think rexall. One of my friends dad worked there.

Anonymous said...

.... and .... own enough of downtown. Why don't they leave .... and the rest alone and let them figure out what to do. There is money out there through the Historical Tax Breaks ..... .

(This comment was edited by the Publisher)

Anonymous said...

No more chain restaurants please.

Textide said...

I see you're extremely upset...calm down and collect your thoughts...they try explaining yourself in English

Anonymous said...

We need a fine chain restaurant like olive Garden, longhorn, logans or a mugshots would be awesome. We really need a sport bar-Restaurant

Veronica said...

All I really want to say the people who worked there are friendly. Always so helpful. I like the old country store feel. I agree no more food places.

Veronica said...

I really enjoyed shopping at this store. The people who work here were really friendly and helpful. I love the old store feel which is loss now in our lives. No more restaurants please. Gonna miss the rockers!!!

Anonymous said...

Another casualty of Walmart.

Anonymous said...

When was Fred's in that building? Bill's 5&10 was there in the late 60's - 70's. Fred's was across from Page & Palette.

Anonymous said...

When I first attempted to shop here, 15 years ago (long before Wal-Mart!), they had such a lack of merchandise as to be laughable. I also found the father and son to be grouchy and unhelpful. The last time I was there, a few months ago, it had gone from bad to worse. Hopefully something nice will fill that space... But, please!!! No Olive Garddn, Logan's, etc! UGH!!!

Anonymous said...

It's not a casualty of Walmart, it's a casualty of the owner dying and his children not wanting to run the store.

Anonymous said...

Can you even imagine the parking nightmare Fairhope would have if an Olive Garden went in there? We only think we have a parking problem now.

Anonymous said...

Go to Daphne if you want to eat that trash

Anonymous said...

No chain restaurants whatsoever!!!!

Anonymous said...

Another piece of Fairhope saying goodbye. I certainly miss the good ol days when this place was a hub of daily life just like Bedsoles and Price Furniture. I suppose change is inevitable. I hope we choose wisely....

Anonymous said...

How would anyone come to the conclusion this is another casualty of Walmart? It's been open all these years despite Walmart. The article clearly states the owner passed away in March. Perhaps his family does not want to run it. In any case, sad to see it go. I agree with the sentiments of others, no more chain restaurants please. This building could be put to much better use in our community.

Anonymous said...


I worked for Mr Baldwin at Fairhope Hardware as well as the Harbor Shop back in the 90's. My father also worked there part-time after he retired from his career in banking. Many, many fond memories in that building. It was like working in Mayberry, everyone knew everyone. Back then we would leave the doors open every now and again making it easy to greet people we knew on the sidewalk or even driving by. Bill Baldwin was a good man and will be missed. It makes me sad to see the store close, it's a Fairhope tradition. I do not believe Walmart plays any part in it's closing. Knowing the family as I do, I believe it's just time. Fairhope is not the same as it was even 10 years ago, our quaint, quiet town is slowly slipping into something else.

Jan Mcdonald said...

One of the first stores I visited when moving to Fairhope in 1988; an iconic small town business for sure! Hope Fairhope keeps the small town feel to the new space.♡

Anonymous said...

Nope!

Anonymous said...

Are you serious? No!

Anonymous said...

It closed because Mr Baldwin died and his sons have other interests.

Anonymous said...

This will be a great loss to Fairhope.
A privately owned Hardware, unorganized or not, they were always there to help you find what you need.
I personally, Found merchandise that was from the 70's or 80's and stamped made in the U.S.A.
The old story go's, YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'VE GOT UNTIL YOU LOSE IT. ��

Anonymous said...

Turn it into a Hangout for all the Eastern Shore Burnouts & Alcoholics.. Just need a few Foosball & Pool tables, Couple Lazy Boy's & free WiFi

Anonymous said...

Takes many years for the full effect of the big box stores to be felt. Not just Walmart though, those in Daphne and Spanish Fort too.

There used to be four hardware stores here back in the day!

Anonymous said...

They could easily squeeze six or eight smaller shops into that building.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking Chuck E Cheese!! Or, maybe, a Subway or CC's Pizza!!! Better yet,a combo KFC/Long John Silver's. Battered cod and clam strips would be a welcome change.

Anonymous said...

You sound like a real winner. Ugh is right!

Anonymous said...

Lol

crivera said...

When I was about 12, my Dad a d I used to walk to the hardware store on Saturday mornings...we would look around for whatever thing-a-ma-jig he needed for the day's project.

It might not have been perfect, but it meant a lot to my Dad.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I felt the same as you... A country hardware is a totally different thing... There is an awesome one in Milton FL. Hall's Hardware. This store in Fairhope seemed to be a loss of interest in the hardware business

Anonymous said...

Correct. This is just sad, not a Walmart casualty. It really breaks my heart to see it go. Poor Mr Baldwin.

Anonymous said...

Yankee maybe?

Anonymous said...

How about if you're incapable of saying something nice and insist on being a troll, you think for once and decide not to. It's rude.

Anonymous said...

I know it might sound surprising, but I am sure with that location and floor space a billiard hall would be profitable. Low overhead, large Windows...something to do in town for all ages. I doubt it will happen, but it would work.

Textide said...

Olive Garden? What is wrong with you people? Move to Foley or Daphne..how about a family owned real STEAK house?...we don't have one (that also sells good buffalo wings)

Mary Kendall-Smith said...

When I was a young mom in my own, Mr. Baldwin sent his son to my home on several occasions to help me with my washer and other small things. I also enjoyed smoking cigarettes while I shopped back in the day and doing the robot in the aisles wearing stove pipes on our arms. Was it disorganized? Yes. Were the proxies high? Yes. Was it worth every penny? Absolutely and so much more! I'm happy I got to experience this place and am happy for the new adventures the younger Mr. Baldwin will get to have now. Best wishes!

Anonymous said...

Maybe the owner’s children don’t want to run it because it can no longer generate enough cash flow (due to big box stores) to make them a decent living. Walmart’s days are numbered too by the likes of Amazon and eBay. I well remember the days of Sears being the king of retailers, now they are all but forgotten, a “has been”, the same will happen to Walmart unless they get on the home delivery bandwagon. I’d say about the only kind of brick and mortar stores that have a future are shoes stores, hairdressers and ladies clothing stores, they have to try things on to see how they look and feel, that can’t be done online.

Anonymous said...

Easy brother anonymous, Walmart sells many of the same things cheaper and you can also buy a gallon of milk while you are there, walmart is a volume retailer. But look out Walmart, Dollar general has your number and they are dialing it in! Also home delivery is changing the face of shopping before our eyes and it is happening so quickly and yet so subtly that its not being noticed. Don’t buy stock in walmart, they are too large and are going to have a difficult time adapting to the new online buying trends.

Anonymous said...

So sad, and from the picture once a beautiful building. Hope it doesn't go like the old "Saratoga Trunk" that was going to be renovated but was too termite infested. Let's not forget the old Theater building that was going to be renovated but all of a sudden burned down. Do I see a precedence here? Be like the "big" developer might have other plans for yet another historic building.

Anonymous said...

I think we need a a nice brew pub to go into that building that serves food and great craft beer. The Fairhope Brewery is nice but I wish it were downtown. Tear that old metal facade off the front of the building like they did at the pharmacy. It will look much better. But whatever happens please don't put in anymore "antique" stores, hair salons or banks in that building. We have way too many. We need more restaurants!

Anonymous said...

What downtown fairhope needs is a restaurant that college students can afford,we don't have $10-$50 for one meal. Its a pain in the ass to walk to 98 to get affordable food.

Anonymous said...

then we need the macdonalds downtown?

Anonymous said...

Reading the comments made me sad. Have respect for the family and their loss of a loved one. Insulting him and trying to determine what goes in the building next is just tasteless. Shame on you people. My condolences to the family.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sure no one from Fairhope ever eats at Olive Garden but build a Steak House.... that has "Fairhope Charm" written all over it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah bc we all know Fairhope doesn't have any garbage restaurants. 🙄

Anonymous said...

Again my condolences to the family

Anonymous said...

If we do have garbage restaurants, they don't last long. Darwin's Theory has worked well for Fairhope restaurants......only the fittest survive. We are so fortunate to have such great choices, but I would love to see more eateries that remain open past mid-afternoon. My only hope is that we don't have another bank in that spot. Banking customers prefer drive-thru's and it is inconvenient for both the account holders and the shoppers when banks locate on small town streets purely for visibility.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is "Parking, parking, parking" Know Brad complained about the parking from the Broken Egg taking up the precious parking in Fairhope.

Anonymous said...

My dad died when I was twelve. Mom knew nothing about hardware or how to repair things. She could bring in something and say "This broke. What do I do?" Mr. Baldwin was always helpful giving instructions on how to fix something or what to replace it with if it couldn't be fixed.

Anonymous said...

My parents would come in from out of town. My dad could spend hours their just looking and browsing.

Laureal said...

Beautiful Fairhope. There is still a fair chance of hope.