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Welcome to 2018: There Are No Strangers Here!

2018-coleWe are happy to be celebrating another new year along with the one-year anniversaries of our SoMa (January 5) and North Beach (February 14) stores, and we’re especially pleased to be a part of these vibrant communities. Our goal for 2018 is to become more active in these neighborhoods and to get to know even more of our neighbors! Here’s a look back at how it all started for us and how Dave Karp’s guiding principle has become the cornerstone of our culture.
In 1961, my father, Dave Karp, purchased a hardware store (now our Cole Street warehouse) that had been located in Cole Valley since the 1920s. Dave was a one-man band: Every morning before opening the store, he would pick up merchandise at the supply houses, and in the evenings, after he closed the store, he would catch up on all of his paperwork. Dave ordered the merchandise, marked the merchandise, stocked the merchandise, helped the customers, rang up the sales, paid the bills, went to the bank, cleaned the bathroom—he did everything himself.
As his business began to grow, his wife, Margie, started coming down to help out. She would cashier, make keys, and direct customers to merchandise. In order to earn extra dollars, my mother would watch the store while my father expanded into “outside work.” During quiet periods and in the evenings, Dave would fix broken windows, repair toilets and faucets, install water heaters, fix doorbells and switches—he would do any jobs that were relatively quick and profitable and that would help him sell some of his merchandise.
Eventually, Dave could no longer keep up with the outside work. Business, both inside and outside of the store, had grown so much that he and Margie simply couldn’t handle it by themselves. He hired someone to help in the store, and he began contracting handymen for the outside work. Business was growing because Dave offered friendly and knowledgeable service, maintained an extensive inventory (he tried to have “one of everything made”), and had a strong desire to succeed. He would do anything that he could to help a customer!
The success of Dave’s business can be summed up in the following motto that he had posted on a large sign over the register:
There Are No Strangers Here, Just Friends We Haven’t Met!
Using this as the guiding principle of his business, Dave went on to build Cole Hardware into one of the busiest hardware stores in San Francisco. We honor Dave’s legacy now at our six locations and invite all our “friends” to stop in and say hi!

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