GAHANNA, Ohio (WCMH) — For two central Ohio women, and generations of customers, late January will mark the end of an era for a storefront that largely stuck to its roots: selling a little bit of everything.
Gahanna Hardware, an old Gahanna mainstay that offers hand tools and paints and wind chimes, is set to shutter at the end of January. In December, owner Twyla Edgell announced the decision via Facebook.
The hardware store’s looming last days — with a targeted Jan. 28 close — bookend near seven decades for a business that has evolved through three locations and three owners.
Edgell has been at the helm since 2014, when she bought Gahanna Hardware from the daughter of Gene Lynch, its original owner. Lynch’s daughter Barbara, now 84, ran the store after her father died. She was the first person Edgell called when Edgell decided to close.
“This was her father’s adventure,” Edgell said in an interview.
For decades, hardware store was ‘a whole family affair’
When Gene Lynch returned to central Ohio from World War II, odd jobs initially sustained him — until he decided to open up his own shop in Amvet Village, on the edge of Linden. Amvet Hardware peddled everything from tools and housewares to children’s toys and dog food.
“You name it, we had it,” Barbara said in an interview.
From fifth grade on, she, her father and her mother Dorris fixed anything neighbors and other customers brought in. The trio mixed colorants, they cut keys, they answered questions. They even cornered the market on a service few other businesses offered then, she said.
“At that time, delivery wasn’t a big thing to do, but since a lot of folks moving in didn’t have cars, we were known to deliver,” Barbara said.
The Lynches eventually relocated to Gahanna, with a then-fresh, now-time-tested name: Gahanna Hardware. The first Gahanna location was on Granville Street, although it now stands on North High Street.
Barbara — no longer a student, but whose work days came and went in front of a Columbus-area classroom teaching high school history — would still work the floor some evenings or over summer break. She was social in nature, so she cherished in-store interactions. “Talking, that was one of my best things,” she said.
In the 1990s, both her mother and father were struggling with their health, so she took over — with decades of lessons from her parents and customers stuffed in her back pocket.
Edgell buys Gahanna Hardware in 2014
By 2014, Barbara’s leg was giving her trouble, and she was ready to find someone to buy her family’s legacy. She found that in Edgell, a traveling hardware saleswoman who frequented Gahanna Hardware and was ready to get off the road.
“She was looking to retire, and I was looking to buy,” Edgell said.
Barbara felt confident that the store was shifting from one woman in charge to another, reflecting on its earliest days of business.
“Ladies didn’t like to go into stores like that usually because it was all men, and they didn’t necessarily want to ask them questions,” Barbara said. And sometimes the men, she said, “They would look at us and say ‘Where are the guys? Where are the guys?’ We got so tired of hearing that.”
In those first six months under Edgell, Gahanna Hardware got a makeover. She had the storefront remodeled, new shelves installed, and she sought out new wares to offer. In January 2023, it’s challenging to watch customers clear those shelves for good, she said.
Business to close its doors by late January
“I worked so hard to build it,” Edgell said. “I wanted somebody to buy it, that would take it to the next level, continue what I started. When I couldn’t find that, I knew it was time.”
Although she has called Ohio home for the bulk of the last 30 years, Edgell, 61, is originally from West Virginia and wants to retire closer to where she was born and raised.
For the better part of the past two years, supply chain woes prompted by the pandemic left Edgell scrambling to stock the place. “I was out of a lot of popular items: the caulking, paint, all those things that are your bread and butter,” she said.
Challenges aside, it was far from an easy decision to shutter, she said. Edgell will miss her staff, and the flow of regular customers.
“They make me cry because all I have to do is look at them and know that I’m not going to see them coming through everyday anymore,” she said.