Central Supply Co. will permanently shut its doors after 67 years in Gallipolis

This photo shows Central Hardware Co. in mid-1960s.

Central Hardware has been serving Gallipolis, Gallia County and the surrounding area since 1948, providing a variety of wares from appliances, tools and farm seed. The business has been on Court Street across from Gallipolis City Park for 67 years. Dottie Chestnut’s grandfather originally opened the business. The family has operated the hardware store for three generations.

Before Central Hardware, there was a grocery store in its place as shown in this photo taken in the 1860s.

Dottie Chestnut helps a customer Wednesday with questions about plumbing.

GALLIPOLIS — Central Supply Co. on Court Street across from Gallipolis City Park is having a retirement sale as it approaches its eventual final closure of operations.

Dottie McMahon Chestnut, 71, store proprietor, will no longer be ordering stock. She told her employee in January she was going to be closing the store. According to her, the store started its retirement sale April 1.

“If you’re here this long, you have an accumulation of things,” Chestnut said, referencing the variety of stock she has acquired over the years. “The more you dig, the more you find. One man said he thought it would take us a year before we got rid of everything. I can’t afford to not recoup some of my money. You’ve got to recover what you’ve got in it (her stock).”

Chestnut said the hardware store has sold a little bit of everything during its time, depending on the season. She noted the store had often sold stove pipe, plumbing, and a large selection of nuts, bolts, screws, tools and cut keys.

“Over time, you have to change your mix of inventory. We used to have a lot of housewares. The front part of our store used to be all housewares. Now, we just have one little section,” Chestnut said. “You have to adapt to what your competition is, and with the advent of (strip) malls, you have to change.”

She noted the hardware shop originally started as a farm store and a variety of people would come to shop in it. Mason, Gallia, Lawrence and Meigs counties notably served as her largest customer base. She said because the store had a “little bit of everything, it attracted people from all over.”

“We survived the first Walmart in the area and then Rural King came, but you can’t survive two stores like that,” she said.

According to Chestnut, Central Supply had sold TV’s and radios at one point because “back then you didn’t have things like Radio Shack.”

Radio Shack on Eastern Avenue also plans to soon close its doors.

“See, my grandfather, he and three other men started (Central Supply Co.) in March of 1948 and then my mom and dad joined in August of 1948. My dad bought into the business. We’ve always been in the same spot. My brother, Neil McMahon, retired from the business in 2007 and my parents retired in 1984. My grandfather retired in 1961,” Chestnut shared. “The company still exists but now I’m the president and vice president. You name it, I’m it — for a few more weeks, anyway, maybe a couple of months. I’d like to be done before winter.”

One of Chestnut’s customers, Molly Martin, said the Central Supply Co. owner was “one of the nicest people” she knew in Gallipolis and the store had been around for as long as she could remember.

Chestnut said she believed the business before Central Supply opened in its current location was a grocery store. She brought out a metal bracket used to hold up shelves she discovered in the building with a large K molded in its center when searching through older items.

Chestnut said she will miss the happy moments looking over Gallipolis City Park in a store that saw three generations of family operation, but added that she will be happy to finally “take some rest.”

Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.