In 1913, Grand Central Terminal was opening in New York City, Henry Ford was establishing the moving assembly line and income tax was being introduced. In Chestnut Hill, Kilian Hardware was opening its doors. Today, it’s the city’s oldest hardware store.
Hundreds, including representatives from City Council, gathered at the 8450 Germantown Ave. location to denote the centennial of the store.
The store has also been family-run the entire 100 years of its existence, according to current father-son owners Russell Conwell Goudy and Russell Conwell Goudy Jr.
It all started with a woman named Minnie Goudy and her husband, Bill Kilian, who opened the store at 8611 Germantown Ave.
In 1918, the store moved to its current location, according to Goudy Sr., who is the nephew of Minnie Goudy.
“I’ve been involved since my father came to work for his sister [Minnie] in 1938,” Goudy said. “I was only eight years old then.”
Goudy recalled playing games with his father in siblings in the store. He added that even though he was involved in the store six years prior, he’s only been on the payroll since he was 14.
Goudy Jr. said he’s been involved with the store for the past 45 years — since he was six. His father still works there, along with his mother Rebecca Goudy, his wife and his two kids. The store currently has 20 employees.
Developing a name for themselves
Over the years, Goudy Jr. said the store has developed an expertise as well as a reputation for serving the community’s specific needs.
“We’ve tried to give our customers what they want,” he said.
One of the things locals may depend on is the store’s well-stocked parts for older homes.
“We’re actually pretty well-known around the country for being providers of hardware if you needed to rebuild any houses about 100 years old,” he said. “The neighborhood gave us the background that we needed.”
Goudy Jr. said he sends parts to people “about as far as it can go” and that he’s soon sending out a package to Indonesia.
The store has developed new relationships in the community, too. Namely, with Weavers Way Co-op.
Goudy Jr., said while he was a member of the Mt. Airy Weavers Way store several years ago, he was approached many times by the co-op to open a second hardware store near the corner of Carpenter Lane and Greene Street in Mt. Airy.
“I can’t handle more than one store,” he said. “So I’d say ‘why don’t you open up a store next to me?’ And so they finally did.”
When Weavers Way was working to open its Chestnut Hill store down the street, Weavers Way marketing director Rebecca Torpie said Goudy Jr. offered Weavers Way a large amount of Kilian’s store credit to help in opening the store.
And in return, Weavers Way supplied all the food for Kilians’ 100th birthday celebration on Friday.
“We’re just really thrilled to have great neighbors like Kilian Hardware,” Torpie said. “They were instrument in helping open the [Chestnut Hill Weavers Way] store.”