|Tony Mirto helping out a customer in the shop.
Text and Photo by Rochelle Riservato
When you walk through the doors of A&M Hardware, your eyes alight on a medley of merchandise built up to epic proportions over the course of 34 years. According to owner Tony Mirto, “This is due to customer requests and community needs.”
He went on to explain that “When someone comes in to order something special, I order two of them so I have it in stock for the next time. We built up [our inventory] over years and years and years, when people asked for something we would stock it and it just got to be this way,” he said as we strolled down multiple aisles chock-full of everything imaginable, from the most plumbing supplies to gardening tools, household appliances, and even a family pet area.
Due to the economy, Mirto feels it’s only human to shop for the best price. However, his shop’s reputation precedes it—it’s local; it saves gas; it’s like having that special neighbor who always has what you need in a pinch.
Oddly enough Mirto’s shop started out as a yard sale. “People would say, ‘Open a store’…so I did,” said Mirto. He went on to explain, “I started the business in 1980, as the economy was growing and there was a need for a hardware store in the area.”
His father-in-law had also owned a local hardware store, but had sold it to someone that community was apparently not very fond of and business suffered. Personable and well-respected in the area, Mirto decided to follow his customers’ advice.
“I’m here 54 years, so I deal with everyone by name. Our customers become friends and family,” Mirto said.
May to August is the busiest time of the year for A&M, and it’s why the store carries much more than what can fit on a shelf. “We have bulk products like gravel, sand, stone and mulches,” Mirto said, maintaining that these items are popular for outdoor projects when homeowners are repairing winter damage, preparing gardens, and summer projects.
When asked whether Tony feels he’s helping his community, he replied, “I hope and think I am—people always tell us thank you for being here.” He also tries to be as price-competitive as he’s able to with the “big guys” with discount fliers advertising month-long sales, and an annual February coupon book. Plus he’ll network with other local stores if he’s out of an item.
“If we don’t have something, we make phone calls to other local stores and send [customers] off to whoever has it. As members of the Rondout Business Association we all work together.”