All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Hard Times for Hardware Stores

Chalk up another one for Home Depot and Lowe's. Pontbriand's Hardware in New Auburn is closing after 79 years in business. Owner Linda Gross says that personal service can't compete with big-box prices.
Linda's grandparents, Arthur and Ida Pontbriand, started the business as a gas station, pumping fuel into Plymouths and Fords at the same 63 Mill St. address.

Before long, the gas station begun by Arthur Pontbriand grew into a hardware store. Ida contracted with the post office to sell stamps and mail packages for the busy neighborhood.

Pontbriand's sold sporting goods, skis and appliances. Eventually, the appliance business broke away and Linda's dad, Gerald, ran the hardware store.

"I can still see my father walking through the aisles," said Mark Pontbriand, Linda's brother. As little kids, they'd ride their bikes in these aisles. By the time they were 12, they were stocking shelves. Soon after that, they were running the register. [Link]

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