Photo by Madison Miller.
Bluff Park Hardware
Donald Byron works with customers at the register at Bluff Park Hardware. Some have been regulars for years.
Donald Byron’s first day of work at Bluff Park Hardware was when he was just a teenager. Though he left the area for school and worked in outside sales for about 10 years, he couldn’t help but seize the opportunity to call Bluff Park Hardware his own when he had the chance.
“The previous owners weren’t going to sell it to just anyone,” Byron said. “I knew the store.”
Byron and his wife, Lisa, prayed about the sale, and in 1998 they became owners. Despite the new faces throughout the years, each owner has maintained the store’s sense of tradition.
Bluff Park Hardware began as Vestavia Home Center in Vestavia Hills in 1956. In 1968, the owners moved to Bluff Park and changed its name. Since then, it has remained on the bluff, moving to the space next door from its original Bluff Park space in 1979.
Since its beginning, Bluff Park Hardware’s focus has been on helping the customer and valuing honesty. Walking through the doors gives customers an old-fashioned feel, as though time has stopped right where it needs to and has no plans to move. Though many stores have adapted to high-tech devices and larger spaces, Bluff Park Hardware remains comfortable with the essentials and a small but experienced staff that is equipped with knowledge of hardware needs. The advantage of staying small, Byron said, is customer service.
“[Customers] get one-on-one attention, if not two-on-one…” Byron said. “We can take a $10 sale and make it into a $2 sale because they don’t need to spend $10 to fix what their problem was.”
There is often a misconception that larger stores are able to offer lower prices, Byron said. This is not always the case. At times, customers have called while in larger stores to ask for a price on a certain item and have found that the cheaper price is with Bluff Park Hardware.
“There was a particular part that they wanted $12 for, and he called me and said, ‘Do you have these? How much are they?’ They were $5.50,” Byron said.
Bluff Park Hardware serves a wide variety of hardware needs from small engine repair to plumbing items and more. If the store is unsure of or unable to provide an item or service, Byron lets the customer know upfront. The store also has a list of trusted references to recommend to customers if they cannot sell or repair what the customer needs.
As a longtime fixture of Bluff Park, Byron knows that it is important to give back. The store sponsors local school events, provides gift baskets for raffles and donates to church events. Byron enjoys the word-of-mouth kind of reputation that Bluff Park Hardware has maintained.
“People will have a problem and [a neighbor] will say, ‘Go to the hardware store. They’ll help you out,’” Byron said.