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Hiller Hardware, 600 Harden Street: 26 September 2009   15 comments

Posted at 11:37 pm in business,landmark

Although there was another, more old-school Hiller Hardware down somewhere in the Vista, this is the one I knew from my childhood as my mother liked to look at the non-hardware, gifty, stuff from time to time when we were in 5 Points. I always thought the place was pretty cool too because of the hardware (not the gifty stuff!) and because, if memory serves me correctly, they often had junior science experiment type kits for sale as well (I suppose that was gifty under some rubric, but it wasn't painted or ceramic..)

Hiller had its own parking lot, as well as metered spaces in front and on the sides, and it was one of the odder lots in town. There was an entrance on Blossom Street by the store back door, and another entrance on Hilton Street which you would not expect at all. The second entrance comes down a rather steep hill and the whole thing is banked like a racetrack. One of my cousin's boyfriends liked to drive up around the bank at an insane speed when the store was closed. It was pretty scary and I was never tempted to do it myself (I did come in from Hilton a number of times myself at a sane speed). It appears that in later years, the Hilton entrance was roped off.

When I heard the store was closing a few months ago, I went by for the first time in years. It hadn't been too picked over at that point, and I got some light bulbs, WD-40 and dust-off spray. The place was still much as I recalled it with the no-nonsense hardware section and the gifty knick-knack sections living together in harmony.

Why did the store close, well, this State story cites the interminable 5 Points street work and big box stores. I'm pretty sure it was the later.

It's an old story in retail. We say we like mom & pop stores, but we shop where there's acres of parking and the stock is both a bit deeper and a few cents cheaper. I'm no different -- as I said above, it had been years since I was in Hiller but I've been to Home Depot or Lowes probably a hundred times in the same period.

It appears to me from the plywood sheeting over some of the front and side windows, that the store was vandalized (or burglarized) at least twice in its final months, and that is a real shame.

The good part of the Hiller closing (again from The State story above) is that the owners own the lot outright, so they will do OK under the new arrangements. In fact, it appears that the incoming bank will only be leasing the property, so they or their heirs will be able to make other deals in the future as well.

Lots of pictures after the jump.

UPDATE 21 May 2010 -- Some pictures taken on 7 Feb 2010, after the demolition:

UPDATE 12 June 2011 -- Well, the BB&T has finally started going up:

UPDATE 13 July 2011 -- Work continues:

UPDATE 11 September 2011 -- The BB&T is open:

Written by ted on September 27th, 2009

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15 Responses to 'Hiller Hardware, 600 Harden Street: 26 September 2009'

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  1. Ted:

    The plywood on the Blossom Street side had been there for at least 3 years. When the closing announcement was made, I wasn't too surprised. You would have thought a hardware store would have the glass to repair its own windows...

    Steve

    28 Sep 09 at 12:00 pm

  2. To me it's a real shame to see Hiller close.

    Where else can we find loose nails in bins sold by the pound, like an old-fashioned produce department? Or buy one washer when we need one washer, instead of a bag of eight?

    I'm still not over the disappointment of the Lady Street store closing, and I'm such an old geezer that I still think of that store as being the "new" replacement for the old Assembly Street store. Now that place was what an old hardware store was all about.

    I had a love/hate relationship with the retired old grampas that worked there. When you asked for something they demanded to know what you were "trying" to do before they'd show you where it was, and nine times out of ten they would tell you there was a better way. Most of the time they were right, but still...

    As a child I also wandered the aisles of Ruff's on Main Street (now Hennessy's Restaurant) and their "suburban" branch in Richland Mall.

    Dennis

    28 Sep 09 at 2:42 pm

  3. Dennis,

    Lake Murray Hardware in Ballentine is one of those stores where you buy "hardware" by the pound. Also, you walk in and only spend 13 cents and they'll sincerely thank you for your business. Probably not worth the driving time from where you're located, but a jewel to have so close to me in Irmo.

    Jonathan

    28 Sep 09 at 2:48 pm

  4. Are they tearing the old building down? I hope not.

    Jeff

    28 Sep 09 at 4:07 pm

  5. Never mind, I read the State article. BB&T has a land lease, means the building is going bye-bye...great...:/...hopefully 5 points can look like Highway 1 or 378 in 10 years...:/

    Jeff

    28 Sep 09 at 4:11 pm

  6. Try Cedar Terrace Hardware, they are also an "old school" hardware store. Across from the V.A. Hospital.

    Eric S

    28 Sep 09 at 9:07 pm

  7. And actually visible way in the righthand background of the first shot here

    ted

    28 Sep 09 at 10:03 pm

  8. Is Hiller still looking to move into the old Ace hardware store in Parkland Plaza?

    jamie

    29 Sep 09 at 7:53 am

  9. I remember seeing that in a story once, but somewhere (can't quite remember where) got the idea that it was no longer going to happen. My own guess is that it would probably not be viable.

    ted

    29 Sep 09 at 1:24 pm

  10. I loved both Hillers. I would go in and immediately be helped by one of the older gentlemen ("'Morning, ma'am, Can I he'p ya?") . I could either describe what I was trying to do and get advice or what I needed, or, more often, dutifully recite what my dad or boyfriend had told me to ask for ("I need a 3/8" masonry drill bit , ten ten-penny nails, and a washer.") and they were so happy to help. I HATE the big box stores, can never get anyone to help me.

    Allie

    8 Jan 10 at 2:18 pm

  11. Allie - I have two fond Hiller Hardware comments:

    Loong ago, I had a big wreck of a house built about 1925, and when I wanted to replace about a dozen mortise door locks I was amazed that they had them. These things were 50 years old but they had brand new ones packed in a grease. I had to follow a guy up to the attic to get 'em, which was like an unguided tour of the State Museum. I STG they had leather horse collars and plows up there. And they sold these locks to me at the ridiculously low price someone hand wrote on them many years ago. (this was the building on the corner of Assembly & Washington, gone now).

    The other thing that always comes to mind is the "older gentlemen" you mentioned. They seemed like retired guys desperate to get out of the house (or pushed out by their wives) and they had tight little sit & spit club. Whenever I came in they would all stop talked, swivel their heads toward me, and wait for me to say what I was looked for. No matter what I said, they'd look at each other, then back at me, and say "What're you trying to do?" like I was a helpless child. At it first it made me mad but over time I learned to shut up and listen and I would surely learn something.

    Dennis

    9 Jan 10 at 7:20 am

  12. I couldn't count the times they had a piece or two of oddball hardware I needed for a job. I would take the old broken items to them and it was amazing to me how they recognized what it was and while walking over to the storage bin (they even knew exactly where to find it) I would get the low-down on who made the item in what year and why it was discontinued, etcetera. Kind of like Duckie on NCIS.

    Terry

    9 Jan 10 at 12:23 pm

  13. I remember walking through this and many other hardware stores like it downtown, and Cedar Terrace Hardware with my Dad. My brother and I were obsessed with building forts and secret bases and tree houses. While our Dad shopped we would look at all the little contraptions and doo-dads in the bins and try to think of what WE would use it for in the fort and secret-base building process. I'd pick up a simple hinge and have a trap door pictured in my head, or a window latch would become some detonation button for an imaginary explosion in our war games. Such fond memories these old hardware stores. :)

    Melanie Gallant

    6 Apr 10 at 7:41 pm

  14. A window latch for a detonation button........cool.
    I'm starting to wonder about you Melanie.

    Terry

    6 Apr 10 at 8:52 pm

  15. I worked next door to Hiller from 1976-1986 (at The Happy Dashery) and got to know Billy Hampton, the owner, and his staff quite well. When Billy retired his son, "young" Bill, , took over.
    Some of the same staff stayed on and were there right up to closing. Betty Walters, who worked there FOREVER, still stops by to say hi occasionally.

    Debmcd

    23 Jan 11 at 7:26 pm

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