Dumont Hardware Owner Closing Up Shop Reflects On 78 Years Of Business

Bill Salisbury was just a kid when he began working at Dumont Hardware.

Bill Salisbury 

Bill Salisbury 

Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine

His father, Harry, opened the store in 1946, and when he turned 12 , Salisbury would come in on weekends to help clean the place.

As he wiped down the windows and swept the floors, Salisbury would listen in on the conversations between the electricians, plumbers, and painters who came for supplies.

Over the years, Salisbury gleaned enough insight to fix just about anything, and by 19, he was working at the 33 Dumont Ave. store full-time, in lieu of earning a degree at the Parsons School of Design. 

These days, business is much slower than it once was, and Salisbury, 82, is looking to sell Dumont Hardware.

"Buying habits for the public have all changed," said Salisbury, speaking to Daily Voice from a pair of lawn chairs he set up inside the shop. "It’s Amazon doing a job on small retail — Home Depot and Lowe's."

Salisbury says some of the best business in recent years happened during the pandemic, when people were home and had nothing to do but fix the projects they'd been putting off around the house.

"I was so busy I thought I was going to have to hire some help," said Salisbury, who grew up in River Vale before settling down in Old Tappan. "And when it was over, [business] just shut down again. I would venture to say we lost about 50 percent."

Salisbury says it's been a struggle ever since.

"The taxes are too much for me and of course the insurance and utilities, it all piles up," he said. "It's just not there anymore. It's time."

Waiting on the customers and helping them fix their problems has fulfilled Salisbury for what would have been 79 years in February.

People would come in with photos of problem spots in their house, and Salisbury would walk them through how to fix it, step-by-step, mapping it out with a pen and paper.

That's what he'll miss doing most.

And his customers will miss him right back.

"I’ve had people break down," he said. "I've had customers calling from Idaho, Arizona, Florida, Delaware and South Jersey saying, 'Tell me it's a rumor.'

"I say, 'What does it matter? You don't even live here.'"

It's all in good fun, Salisbury clarified. 

Salisbury has his own hopes for the store:

"I would like to see someone buy the place and operate it as a hardware store," he said. "I'd be more than happy to come in three or four months and familiarize them with the store, answer any questions they have, and teach them everything they need to know."

Salisbury isn't interested in working the register. If he has it his way, he'll be on the floor helping people fix their problems.

And if that doesn't pan out? Well, there's a whole world out there for him to see, he said.

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