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Rogerson's Hardware- a wonderful find !

Joe Michaels

Diamond
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Location
Shandaken, NY, USA
I caught sight of an ancient hardware store in Hudson, NY. Unique in that nearly all the old stores in Hudson, NY are now antique dealers or art dealers, selling trendy stuff we threw away when we outgrew it, and getting astronomical prices for it. I spotted this old hardware store and looking in the door as I drove past, I saw a Starrett display. Today, I got over to Hudson, NY with a couple of hours to kill, and found that hardware store. It is a blast from the past and then some. The hardware store is called Rogerson's. It has been there, in that very same building and store since 1830. It is a very interesting hardware store, in that it is not affiliated with any of the chains like Ace or True Value. Walking in, I saw the Starrett tool sign hanging from the ceiling, and counters and wall cases with Starrett tools, along with drawers of all sorts of old hardware, bins of wire rope and rigging stuff like wire rope clips and turnbuckles and shackles.... As I walked in, I noted a huge webbed cast iron angle plate, the kind you'd need a helper with you to pick up. New Old Stock Walker-Turner motors, heaps of new old stock pillow block bearings, Lufkin steel rules, taps, and literally hundreds of boxes of files of every size and type made by Nicholson, Grobet, and some German file makers. Rifflers, equalling files, large files and barette style needle files... Stuff piled on stuff, and all of it good, and most appearing as new-old-stock.

As I browsed my way into the store, a lady at the counter asked me what I needed. I asked for a can of Dykem blue, which, of course, they did not have. I needed some socket head capscrews, so the lady called upstairs to a man named Bart. Bart, she explained, had been buying up old inventory as mill supply houses went out of business, and had been piling it into the upstairs. The lady said a person could not move in the upstairs areas as Bart had it packed so full. Bart came down, an older man in a shop coat, and asked me what I wanted. I told him. He asked me if I had a machine shop and was I a machinist. I told him yes on both counts. He asked me what machine tools I had, what kind of work I did. Then, he asked me if I had any surplus tools to sell him. I said no, and we got to talking further. Bart said he had a small machine shop in the upstairs, and he took me up to see it. He had a Southbend Heavy 10" lathe, a Clausing vertical mill, a Harvey die filer, and some heavy woodworking machine tools. Bart said he was no machinist, but enjoyed getting into the work. He then gave me the 50 cent tour. He had shelves of new shim stock in rolls, tons of end mills, face mills, toolbits, twist drills, taps, dies, and other milling cutters. He had tons of assorted US made hand tools and parts for them. I saw old US made woodworking vises laying in a dusty pile on the floor, along with unrelated other stuff. It was a profusion of stuff and it was mind boggling for me.

We wound up spending over an hour visiting. We introduced ourselves, and Bart said his last name is Slutzky. There is a prominent family by that name who developed the Hunter Mountain ski slope and resort properties within a stone's throw of Hudson, NY. I asked Bart if he was related, and he said he figured back in the old country, possibly. He said he was Russian Jewish, and at the same instant, we both started speaking Yiddish. It was old home week. Kidding and carrying on like I had not been party to since older relatives were amongst the living was the order of the day. Bart is a real oldtimer, kind of slow and deliberate, and he knows his tools. He knows what they are used for and what they are worth, but sitting on new old stock, I tend to think he would cut a bit of a break. Some of the Starrett stuff he had looked like it was old before WWII, solid dark red boxes, rather than the lighter red with the white lined "diamond" pattern with the Starrett logos.

Bart put the socket head screws I needed in a bag, and I picked out a new Grobet Riffler file. Bart looked up his cost on the riffler, and discounted 25% on that. Bart asked me if I had a filing machine, and asked what type chuck it had. He said he had the mother lode of machine files, and if I called ahead next time, he'd pull together and assortment. Bart did something I hadn't seen in years- he pulled out a pack of unfiltered Camels and lit up in his store (against NYS law to smoke in a business establishment, but I am sure Bart could care less what the law has to say). He then took a receipt pad and hand-wrote up what I'd bought using a pen, carbon copied. He looked up the prices, figured a discount, and asked me for my card. He said he gets people coming in needing specialized parts made for one thing or another, and he'd refer work to me.

As an aside, while Bart and I were kibbitzing- Bart asking me about my life's work and then some- in came some guy from the artsy crowd. The guy said he needed "six large spikes". Bart asked him how big, and the guy pulled a bolt from a bin and said about that length. Bart told the guy he sold nails by the pound, not the piece, and the guy got a little uptight and made some remark about an old store looking like it was going out of business, and how it was little wonder seeing how they treated a customer. By this point, I was on a roll. I reached into a nail bin, and found one of the old "claws". These were used to pull out bulk nails. When we were kids and the old man was in the lumber yard, we'd chase each other around with those claws. Anyhow, I pulled out the claw- same "D" type loop handle, so old it looked like a blacksmith had made it and re-welded it when it wore out. I showed the claw to the artsy-fartsy guy and said: "Lookit- REAL hardware stores sell nails by the pound. If you want 'em in a container, you gotta take a keg, and that's 100 lbs. If you want a cute little blister pack of nails, go to Lowe's. This is a piece of history and a real hardware store." Bart chimed in that he'd sell the guy a pound of 16d common nails for a buck. The guy whined that he did not want a pound of nails, only six of them. So, Bart and another fellow from the back counted out six nails. Told the guy it would be 50 cents. The guy pulled out a ten dollar bill. Bart and the other fellow (wearing a suit and tie and running the back office) said they could not break the ten spot, so take the nails on the house and remember them when he next needed hardware. That is how the oldtimers did business, you'd never see that happen in Lowe's or Home Despot. Nice to see it still happens in an oldtime hardware store.

Another guy came in and said he needed a hook to hang a "pool rack" on the wall. Bart thought the guy wanted to hang something else totally different. I kidded about pool halls- Bart & I being of the generations whose mothers warned us to stay out of such places. Bart was trying to understand what the guy wanted to hang on the wall, confusing it with swimming pools and some kind of rack. I said: "Give 'im a large brass wardrobe or harness hook". Bart went right to a wooden bin and out came a nice brass wall hook. The customer was delighted and wound up also buying some really nice solid brass numbers to put on his mailbox sign. Not the new Chinese drek, but real nice solid cast brass with crisp lines to them. The hardware they have in that place is not to be believed. Bart told me he'd bought out a supplier of electric motors and mechanical drive parts, so he had a glut of pulleys, pillow blocks, gear reducers, and similar if I needed anything along those lines. Bart was showing me one stash or pile of NOS stuff after another, and it was amazing to me.

Bart told me he has been buying up inventory as the independent stores and especially the old mill and machine shop supply houses went out of business. He has packed the old building. I suspect Bart is a machinist tool junkie. He seems to be a kindred spirit, and had all the time in the world to spend with me while this assortment of customers came in and out. I can see where a visit to Bart in his hardware store could be quite addictive and expensive, but I aim to be a repeat customer. Bart gave me his phone number and said to call ahead to be sure he is there.

The hardware store is right on Warren Street in Hudson, NY. Hudson is a town which had a lot of manufacturing, companies making power presses and conveyors and the odd specialty of "ice tools"- tools for cutting and handling cakes of ice from ponds or rivers. It had cement mills, and foundries, and all sorts of industry, but nothing of that is left. I walked along Warren Street and saw a row of clay foundry crucibles lined up as art objects in a store window. In another store, and ancient woodworking bandsaw with lacy curved-spoke wheels stood as a display prop. Warren Street is given over to the artsy-fartsy crowd, mostly up from NY City. Rogerson's is a holdout, one of the last of the original businesses. If you get into Hudson, head uphill on Warren Street, and you will see a set of railroad tracks running in the pavement, crossing Warren Street at what looks like a village square. Rogerson's is on Warren Street, by the railroad tracks and square. The railroad tracks are (or were until recently) in use. Local freight servicing some cement silos and possibly some grain storage silos is moved over tracks which run right in the streets of Hudson. Most of the old industrial buildings have been re-purposed into hip clubs and studios, and the industry and the people who worked at it are very nearly extinct. My wife and I had gone into some of the new shops, and we had to stifle a combination of "I don't believe what they are charging.... we threw better stuff out when I was a kid..." and plain laughter. Seeing old meat grinders (the kind you clamp to the table and crank) and old egg beaters and Sunbeam mixers being sold as antiques with high prices has us scratching our heads wondering who buys this stuff and what they do to have that kind of loot. Meanwhile, Rogerson's is the real find, the original, and a real mother lode. Fortunately, the people who think a beat up toaster or meat grinder needs to be tastefully displayed with dried weeds coming out it have not discovered Rogerson's- or maybe Bart's people skills see to it the place stays as a time capsule for people like us.
 

sfriedberg

Diamond
Joined
Oct 14, 2010
Location
Oregon, USA
W.C. Winks Hardware in Portland, OR, was a lot like that. Rising property values/rents in downtown Portland forced them to move across the river some years ago, and I haven't visited their new location to see if they carried over all the old stuff.

Sam A. Mesher Tool is another downtown Portland time capsule, but of a different sort. They are an active distributor for many lines of machine tooling, but their in-house inventory is dominated by WW II vintage stuff that didn't sell. Things like 2.25" carbon steel taps, or cutters for DP 11 gearing or for bevel gearing. This would be insane if their stock weren't 100% depreciated. I am sure they are losing money compared to renting out 3/4 of their building to tenants, but I'm sort of glad they haven't done the practical thing.
 

Greg Menke

Diamond
Joined
Feb 22, 2004
Location
Baltimore, MD, USA
For crying out loud I had lunch w/.the family in Hudson year before last and had no clue. They'd have been staring at an empty chair all afternoon if I had run across that place. We're up that way come springtime if it ever arrives.. upgrades to the car toolbox if nothing else... Thanks Joe!
 

ponderingjunkman

Cast Iron
Joined
Dec 9, 2003
Location
Cairo, NY USA
I'm pretty sure they bought out van Tassel tool, which had lots of starret stuff on their showroom years ago. Van tassel used to deliver hardware and tools to a place i first worked at, and I got my first tools from them. Last time I was in Rogerson's a few years ago for some cutting oil, they seemed on the decline, so I kind of gave up on them- But after Joe's description, I will go there again!! Thanks for the update, Joe!
 

rivett608

Diamond
Joined
Oct 25, 2002
Location
Kansas City, Mo.
Makes me want to drop what I'm working on and go on a day trip....... If I were within a hundreds miles or so that's where I would head on the first nice spring day.

When I was a kid of 15 I worked in a what I would call transitional hardware store, it had the service, loose nails, hand cranked meat grinders, etc. but was located in a circa 1960 strip mall..... Gone were the drawers behind the counter with rolling ladders. So much of what describe was in this store but two things are missing..... All of the "boys" as we were called, this included the assistant manager who was older than my father wore blue work shop jackets and there was a bakery next door so there was always a box of fresh donuts on the nail counter in the back...... And of course the boys were always looking for reasons to go over to the bakery to visit the girls, they were dressed in white.
 

duckfarmer27

Stainless
Joined
Nov 4, 2005
Location
Upstate NY
Joe -

Now I have to find an excuse for a 3 or 4 hour drive! Used to spend some time in Hudson, but at the Armory (since closed as such - no idea if it is even still there or what it might be used for) in late 74 early 75, but don't remember Rogersons. Hudson is definitely more 'artsy' now than it was back then. Will have to send your observations to my buddy who lives on the other side of the river - he's a retired engineer and might even know of the place as he has 'bad habits' like the rest of us. Back then his beat up VW (well, slightly more beat up than the one I was driving) had a sometimes defective starter. I can remember pushing him down the street in Hudson so he could jump start it when it was time to head home.

Had to laugh on the nails / spikes. The yard I have gone to my whole life, still family owned, still has the bins - but only for the large spikes, 20d and up. Everything else is prepackaged. But there is that one claw left. Trouble is I can just barely remember us buying nails by the keg when I was a kid just about the time they went to the cardboard boxes. Matter of fact in cleaning things up a month or two ago I finally tossed a ragged United States Steel box that had held 16d common from building the house. Actually debated saving it as a relic but it was too far gone.

Dale
 

BobRenz

Stainless
Joined
Jun 30, 2012
Location
Minnesota, USA
Seven Corners Hardware in St Paul is a hardware store that has (had) darn near anything in stock. They are a block from the Mississippi, so they stocked very large manila rope for the towboats, they are a block from the civic center, so they became used to sudden requests for supplies from touring groups. They have 2 floors (plus a packed basement) of tools, ranging from 4" smooth cut files to cement mixers. I used to go there for a saw blade, and I'd always find other things that I didn't even know were out there. On rainy Fridays, contractors would be 3 deep at the counter.

They aren't a machine shop supply company, but their story is too common these days.

They are in the process of closing. There is a buyer who will tear it all down and put up a hotel. Their prices were always pretty good, and now they are even better on the remaining inventory. Bins are now empty - I bought out their remaining inventory on some stuff that I use all the time.

Progress......
 

Bob-O

Hot Rolled
Joined
May 27, 2004
Location
Long Island, NY
Joe, what a blast from the past! My dad used to travel on business from Brooklyn to Hudson quite regularly. He did business with the V&O Press Company right up to when they went out of business. I actually worked on their OBI presses back in the '70s during my high school and college summers when I worked for my dad. We converted their old dog clutch presses to air clutches. When I started college for mechanical engineering in 1974, he took me up there on a field trip. He knew the principals of the company quite well and I got a complete plant tour. I still remember all the press frame castings ageing in the yard. I'll bet we drove right past that hardware store. I'll have to make a point of stopping in the next time the wife and I head north.
Thanks for the memories!
Bob
 

Riderusty

Hot Rolled
Joined
Jan 19, 2002
Location
Sea Cliff, NY & Portland, OR USA
Thanks for that, Joe. Sounds like a good reason for a day trip upstate when the weather improves. My wife can check out the antique shops as I bury myself in hardware. Sfriedberg, I was never in the old Wink's but a friend in Portland describes it as you did. The current store is large with a wide selection of stuff--the usual plastic blister pack items and many "housewares" in front but if you need hardware items, you walk abut halfway back to a long counter and take a number. A sales person then escorts you to the appropriate area and helps you select your items, no browsing. The clueless yuppies probably appreciate the individual attention. There doesn't seem to be much, if anything, in the way of NOS items. I usually go to Park Rose Hardware on Sandy Blvd. Although a modern store, True Value I think, they have a good inventory.

Tom B.
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2004
Location
Metuchen, NJ, USA
Hudson, NY, is an AMTRAK stop

Ladies & Gents,

You can catch an Amtrak train to Hudson NY. There will almost certainly be taxicabs available to take you to Warren St. If you are fit, you could even consider walking it, though it is UPHILL.

I've been to Hudson, but did not find Rogerson's.

Another Hudson, NY attraction is Liberty Paint Co., which make genuine "Black Japanning" paint, appropriate for repainting many antique tools and machines. The result is indistinguishable from the japanning on an old Stanley Bailey plane. Best to pick this up in person or else the hazmat shipping charges will "get you".

Just south of Hudson is Olana, a just unbelievable Moorish style mansion built by Hudson River School painter Fredrick Church

Also in Hudson is the New York State Firefighting Museum, which will absolutely knock your socks off if you like fire trucks.

Joe, when you wrote "mother lode of machine files", you made me wonder if this is the same lode that previously reposed at the late Fowler & Keith in Kingston, NY ??? I remember being impressed by their file inventory.

If I ever get up there again, I'll have to meet Bart and ask him if he bought out Wallace Armer Hardware in Schennectady.

Locally in NJ we have Barrett Tool Supply in Kenilworth and Max Brown Industrial Hardware in Carteret, although the latter got sort of "impaired" when the urban renewal moved him off of Roosevelt Av and onto an obscure industrial park. (Heard that some amazing stuff got scrapped in that move. :( )

Last local holdout with nail bins is Baumgartners Hardware in Carteret.

This whole thing brings to mind something that I've always believed: There is practically no town or city in the USA that is completely without points of interest or businesses of interest. Friends talk to me of great trips they've taken to Europe, or the Caribbean, or a cruise. HA! I'd rather poke around an American city.

John Ruth
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2004
Location
Metuchen, NJ, USA
There's an older thread on this topic of old-school hardware stores

I just remembered an old thread on the topic of old-school hardware stores:

http://www.practicalmachinist.com/v...-hardware-stores-industrial-suppliers-217890/

Maybe this thread should stick with the particular topic of Rogerson's Hdw. in Hudson NY, and the older thread be for a more wide-ranging discussion of old school hardware stores.

I would like to see more about crusty old hardware store owners in this here thread.

Decades ago, I encountered a Mrs. Meeker, proprietor of Meeker's Hardware in Danbury, CT. She sat at a dark oak desk and, so help me, she had a candlestick telephone that worked ! She had no trouble finding an Augur Bit File, a specialized file used to sharpen carpenter's auger bits.

Just 15 years back, I met Edwin Ruskin of Ruskin's Hardware and Industrial Supply in Jersey City, NJ. Wow! What a place ! He had glass for kerosene lanterns, including red glass for warning lanterns. And hot rivets !!! Wooden barrels, with every size. The whole store was oak fixtures. I gave him my number and asked him to call me if he ever liquidated, because I intended to buy all the oak fixtures. I think I could have made money selling some in the decorator market and still had enough to re-furnish a workshop. Alas, one day I stopped there and it was dark and I could see through the window that it was empty.

I really liked Joe's description of his conversation with Bart at Rogerson's. I just wish I had a clear memory of some of the things Mrs. Meeker and Mr. Ruskin said !

John Ruth
 
Completely missed this post in the past.

Monday the wife & I were returning to Elmira from western Mass. We try to take different routes each time, preferably the old byways. So in aiming to bypass Albany, we meandered down to Hudson. Went to go in a place to eat and a guy sitting at a table outside smoking camels stopped me and wanted to talk. Said he saw me looking in his store window, what did I need? I said we needed to eat. He kept after me and I said it was an interesting tool display and the store looked like a great resource. He wanted to talk so i said "look, we've been driving, didn't eat breakfast, it's almost 11, let us get a bite, and we'll come out to talk. He said "just come back up to the store".

So that's how we met Bart Slutzky, spent a couple hours at his Rogersons Hardware store, was offered a cigarette periodically (I don't smoke), got the shop tour, phone #, etc as Joe relates. Bart is a nice & interesting guy. I'm used to relating to guys like that from working in NYC in the mid 80's when I still lived in MD.

The story on the files is that sometime in the early 80's he was told by an inside source to buy an inventory of 8,000 dozen files, and how to go about it, which maybe he will relate if you stop in. The price was amazing and he recovered his costs by selling 1/3 of them, still dirt cheap, to either Lee Valley or Lie Nielsen, I lost track. (there were deals at different times with both) So the other 64,000 files were profit. But in studying the deal & figuring out who would buy various types, he became very knowledgeable about files, different ways they are made by different manufacturers, the oddballs, etc, etc, and he continues to specialize in them & buy other inventories. I would consider the store a great resource just for that. NOS types and patterns that are no longer available. They aren't cheap, but if you need them, they are there. As Joe relates, he has a price list but the sense is that deals can be done. The only thing in the store I tried to buy was a selection of tap extractors and fingers from a box & envelops on one of the shelves in front, but Bart decided he was fixing them for himself (Assembling bodies and fingers from different NOS packages) and there weren't enough left over to sell any. He apparently has loads of consumable tooling (drills taps cutters etc) upstairs but there wasn't time to look or get interested this trip.

The window display on the street includes quite an array of old mostly Stanley woodworking planes and tools, most in very good shape. From the few that had price tags that could be seen, I did not bother to mention them. It strikes me as one of those stores if you know what you need there's a good chance it will be available there and the price will be fair. Many of the prices will be very good deals. If it was closer, I'd be in every week. But if the idea is kicking tires to see if anything is cheap, it probably isn't. It looks to be a great source for builders hardware for old buildings.

There was a steady flow of customers, probably slightly more women than men, mostly for conventional house systems, plumbing parts, and hardware. Bart and his assistant genuinely tried to understand each problem and suggest ways to help beyond just making a sale.

My wife really hit it off with his younger helper while Bart & I were in the shop. Fascinating guy in his own right.
Bart was telling me something as we came down the stairs, and I turned around and said, "no, the point is that you are a character and I am going to go online and brag about meeting you." So we ribbed each other and left.

smt
 

ponderingjunkman

Cast Iron
Joined
Dec 9, 2003
Location
Cairo, NY USA
Earlier this year, it was decided that anniversary parties for two of my sisters were to be combined, and I was tasked with obtaining gifts for my two brother in laws. Being they are both mechanical maintenance guys with a few machine tools of their own( sisters chose wisely), I could not come up with a gift idea better than a shopping spree at Rogersons! So I went over there, also needing a 1/8" endmill- which he had. So I told Bart what I wanted to do, and he was very accomodating. I had my dad bring the guys over "To show them a cool store they may find interesting"- and as they are both from out of the area, it was a complete surprise, in a good way! They both ended up spending more than the C-note I gave each of them, and ended up with a quality stash of treasure. I think the girls were a bit jealous of the fun they had...
 








 
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