A. W. Baldwin's Hardware

AW Baldwin's Hardware
2 Center Street, West Stockbridge, MA
(413) 232-7757

Henry Baldwin’s hardware business has a genealogy.  His great-great grandfather, also by the name of Henry, bought the business 150 years ago, and Baldwin’s Hardware has been a steadfast presence right smack in the middle of West Stockbridge ever since then.  From this vantage point, Baldwin has a pretty special perspective on this little—and very walkable—town.

The store sits on Center Street, midway between the train station and Main Street, on the banks of the Williams River.  The train no longer hauls local marble or iron ore; nor does it disgorge rowdy visitors from cities.  The river no longer powers the Shaker Mill, which ground the Tyringham Shaker community’s grain into flour.  But Baldwin’s Hardware is still Baldwin’s Hardware.  Baldwin’s grandfather’s handwriting in the “daybook” reveals how much he charged for a pound of nails in 1920 and where he bought his cement.  “We have records that go back generations—hundreds of years—of other families and businesses doing business with us.”

Yes, Baldwin’s is a True Value store and carries all of the supplies you might need for home improvement projects, including Benjamin Moore paints, Weber grills, and lawn and garden supplies, but Henry Baldwin is quick to tell you that what he and his three coworkers really specialize in is individual customer service.  “We’re very convenient to those who live near us.  You can park literally at the front door, and you don’t have to walk across a 10-acre parking lot.  And when you’re all done with your purchase we carry it to your car and put it in your trunk.”

It follows naturally that a store as ingrained in the local economy and in local relationships as Baldwin’s Hardware should encourage the use of BerkShares.  As Baldwin says, “it’s a no brainer.  It’s risk free, and easy. You simply put a sign up.  Plus, it’s cash, so you don’t have to pay the 2.5 or 3% to the credit card company.”  Baldwin is already among almost a dozen of his fellow West Stockbridge business people in accepting the local currency, but he is hungry for more opportunities for recirculation.  “I want a dozen more businesses in town to take them so we can rotate them through our stores.  I can spend them in their stores and they can spend them in mine.”

At the rate that West Stockbridge is going, it looks like there may soon be more locally owned businesses to participate in this exchange.  “About two years ago probably 40% of the storefronts were vacant.  But now, we’re back to basically full capacity.  We have new coffee shops, two restaurants will be opening this summer, and there will be a sculpture park going in behind the train station in the next few years.”  Already, it seems that West Stockbridge has become more of a destination. “Foot traffic through town is just going up day-by-day it seems. And we’re still in the off-season.  I can only imagine what it’ll be like in June, July and August.”

Baldwin’s Hardware will be celebrating its 150th anniversary the weekend of July 12th and 13th this summer.  “We’ll be having a sale, and we’ll have food and a band.  I hope that every store in town will be open so that people can come to West Stockbridge and not just come to check us out but to check out the whole town.”