The building on the northeast corner of Oak and Chestnut that housed Massey Hardware was originally built and owned jointly by two Conway men, John Grummer and Adalbert Lachowsky. Grummer used the front part of the building for his hardware business and Lachowsky used the back portion for his tin shop.
Grummer sold his stock of hardware merchandise to Walter Massey in October 1942, and Lachowsky retired, but both men retained joint ownership of the building. Upon their deaths, the building was willed to their widows who shared ownership.
Massey changed the name of the hardware store but the Grummer name still remained in the tiles at the front door. He also lowered the display shelves so they could be reached more easily but kept the wooden floor and the single bulb lights dangling from electric cords. He also kept the three-foot high swinging pendulum clock.
The original pot belly stove, too, remained in the corner. The building never had heat and air. In the cold winter months, men would gather around this stove to warm themselves and “swap the spit” i.e. exchange local gossip and hunting stories. In the summer, the stove was dismantled to allow more display space but men often congregated there anyway.
In 1944, Massey hired John Henze, a World War II veteran. When Massey died four years later, his widow sold one-third of the business interest to Henze. In 1952, Henze’s ownership portion grew to half interest and by 1963, he was the sole owner.
Finally, as sole owner, Henze was able to make needed changes. He acquired a Browning Arms franchise and replaced the old wooden floors with concrete. He also modernized the stock and improved the window displays. Old hunting trophies were displayed.
When Henze retired in 1968, Jerome Moix, originally hired by Massey in 1947, bought the stock and continued the business.
Farmers could find virtually anything they needed in Massey Hardware. The store kept a full stock of farm utensils, home and garden supplies, leather goods and livestock supplies. For the sportsman, the store had hunting and fishing equipment as well as apparel. Hunting and fishing licenses could also be purchased there.
In the springtime, many visited Massey’s to purchase bulk seed, displayed in open rows of bins. The seeds were measured out in whatever amount the customer wanted, whether it was a nickel’s worth or ten dollars’ worth. Customers returned year after year, feeling that Massey’s was the only reliable place to get seed.
Massey Hardware closed its doors for the last time in 1998. For many people, it is the smell and feel of Massey’s that they remember the most. When you left the busy sidewalk of downtown Conway and walked through the doors of Massey’s, you were transported back to a simpler time.
Some of the material for this column came from Kenneth E. Moix, son of Jerome Moix, who published a paper on Massey Hardware in the Spring, 1974 Faulkner Facts and Fiddlings.
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