The story of Tarzian Hardware, like so many other mom and pop shops in this neighborhood and city, is a story of the American Dream.
|Charles and Sophie Tarzian|
|A turpentine bottle from the 1930s, with the business' original name|
On the verge of shuttering after taking a hit during the 30s, Charles and his wife Sophie were forced to devise a new tactic to bring people to the shop.
"Back during the war it was illegal to keep your lights on at night, so the German bombers wouldn't be able to see the city. Charles got a part-time job giving out tickets to those who left their lights on. There was a way around the ban, though. You could leave your lights on if you had heavy drapes and a fire bucket. So he directed them to Tarzian Hardware, of course," he said, laughing. "Business picked right back up."
|View from the entryway. There was originally a large horseshoe-shaped counter at center.|
|The ancient basement staircase|
It may appear cluttered but if you look closely it's apparent that everything is carefully organized, from paint to showerheads to "granny carts." If you can't find something, the salespeople, many of whom have been working there for well over a decade, can point you in the right direction.
"There were seven hardware stores on Seventh Avenue in the 1960s, and today Tarzian is the only one left," said Tarzian. "We've worked really hard to make sure that we stick around."
|A view of the block in the 1990s. Tarzian is at left.|
Note: The price was misquoted earlier as $10. Apologies for the confusion.
It's between Fifth and Sixth, and is set so far back from the street that the odds are it's the oldest surviving structure on the block. My guess is that it was built in the 1860s. Here it is on a map from 1880: