Jeff Green | Jul 03, 2019

Chad and Nicole Van Camp have owned the Verona Hardware store for 15 years, but they have a way to go to match the longevity of the previous owners.

Ken and Evelyn Harper purchased the store in 1971 and ran it for 33 years. Steven and Victor Merrill, a father and son team, opened the Verona Hardware store in 1929 and ran if for 42 years before selling to the Harpers.

“90 years under only three owners, that’s a pretty good record for continuity in a small-town business,” said Chad Van Camp earlier this week. It wasn’t easy for him to find a lot of time to talk, because it is July and the summer traffic is here.

“It’s a very, hands on business. There is no hiding, people expect to see you, they expect you to have what they need and to be able to bring it in if you don’t have it. Service is everything in this business, and every day is different,” he said.

Just that morning, a call came in from a customer in Toronto, saying his wife was at their cottage with a dead battery in her vehicle.

“Just as our truck was headed out the man phoned back said a neighbour had stopped by and boosted the battery so we didn’t have to. Our truck as going that way anyway on a call, so it wouldn’t have been a problem. When the phone rings, you never know what’s going to happen.”

Since Verona Hardware sells Rona products, Chad feels they can compete on price with stores in Kingston, but as an independent store he is also able to bring in product lines, like outerwear in winter and fishing tackle in the summer, that he can’t get from Rona. And he can provide the kind of service that creates loyal customers.

This Saturday, to mark the 90th anniversary, Verona Hardware is holding a party. The first 100 customers in the store will receive a free 5-gallon Rona pail, and everything they purchase that fits in the pail will be half price. There will be specials throughout the store all day, as well as $10 propane tank fill-ups.

Between 11am and 3pm there is a fundraising BBQ, with all proceeds going to Frontenac Minor Hockey.

“We want to celebrate, and bring people into the store,” said Chad, “it is the summer time, after all.”

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