Annapolis Says Goodbye to Stevens Hardware
A customer has tacked up a banner outside for people to sign and share their memories of the iconic Annapolis shop as it prepares to close for good.
Outside of Stevens Hardware a new white banner with hand written messages overlaps the "Going Out of Business" signs that fill the Dock Street shop's windows.
The banner reads: "Thank you Stevens Family for a lifetime of service and fond memories. From ... Annapolitans all over the world."
In front of the sign sits a small wooden table and a basket of markers with a note that asks passersby to stop and share a memory about the iconic downtown business, which will close its doors for good on Christmas Eve.
"A customer of ours called and asked if he could put it up," Mike Stevens said. "It was up when we got here [Wednesday] morning."
He said the sign is a gift for his grandmother Marge Stevens—who has worked at the shop nearly every day for 53 years since her late husband Bud Stevens bought it in 1960.
"I had tears when I saw it," Marge Stevens said.
The 84-year-old joked that she might hang it in her family room once the store closes, but she said she won't need it as a reminder of all the good memories—those are still fresh in her mind.
"We never had a bad day," she said.
Even when Hurricane Isabel flooded the downstairs in 2003, the community rallied and the store recovered. But the shop couldn't weather declining sales, Mike Stevens said.
"We're closing this down and not having any kind of debt," Mike Stevens said. "We chose to shut everything down prior to that point. We didn't want to go to that point."
Marge Stevens owns the building with her three sons, and Mike Stevens said they have already started getting calls from people interested in renting or purchasing the 6,000 square foot property at 142 Dock St.
Mike Stevens wasn't sure what the location will become, but it likely won't be a hardware store despite the fact that it's operated as one since 1870.
Initially, the plan was to close in mid-January, but a rush of visitors and local merchants willing to buy remaining inventory has pushed the closing date up to Christmas Eve at 1 p.m.
"It's a shame because we have had so many people come in our store the past two weeks," Mike Stevens said. "People we haven't seen in 30 years ... We've had visits from former neighbors at the Market House who have reassured us that life goes on."
He said the family will go to McGarvey's for drinks and oysters after they total out the register and lock the doors. He plans to take a week off and then begin looking for work elsewhere. He's worked at the store since he was about 10 years old.
Marge Stevens joked that she too will be looking for work.
She plans to catch up on household chores and maybe try to learn to use an iPad—a suggestion from her grandson.
Both Stevens said they are going to miss the people the most.
"There are so many people that I see on a regular basis just because of this place," Mike Stevens said. "When we're gone I'm going to be wondering 'What's happening with Bill's wife?'"
Marge Stevens said that in the end, she has no regrets.
"I feel a little like Jimmy Stewart," she said, "It's been a wonderful life."
Do you have a favorite memory of Stevens Hardware?