COLE! HARDWARE!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Breathes there a Rockridge resident who has not, at one time or another, cried in frustration; "Oh! To have a hardware store in Rockridge!"?

It's not that hardwarestores are unavailable. There is Home Depot, of course. In Emeryville. There is an Ace on Grand Avenue. In Piedmont. And, true, Oakland has Ace Ellis Hardware on Martin Luther King Jr Way.

But these are not places of one's own. These are not the beloved - and long-gone - Fiorio Hardware on Telegraph Avenue with its oiled wooden floors or the lamented G&G Hardware, a block or so away from Fiorio, with its helpful - and occasionally querulous - extended family behind the counter. No, these are not even Elmwood's cooly efficient Bolfing's Hardware. Those are gone. All gone.

But, the wheel is turning and the news is good: Rockridge is destined to be home for a new Cole Hardware branch. Cole, the growing merchandising legend that started with a single store on Cole Street at the foot of San Francisco's Parnassus Heights has now grown to four renowned stores in the City by the Bay.

Late in October, The Rockridge News ventured across the Bay Bridge to visit Cole Hardware and talk with the manager-to-be of the Rockridge store, and with David Karp, son of the owner.

Tessa Riley ("Just Tessa or Tess; it's not short for anything"), assistant manager at the Cole Street store, is to be manager of the Rockridge store. She started with Cole five years ago as a cashier, progressing to her current position. She looks forward to being "the face of the store, and to interacting with the community."

Asked about the reception Cole has received in Rockridge, Tessa and David both said they had been "blown away by the enthusiasm for the store. A lot of people at Out and About said how happy they were, and we had a really good response to a job fair we held at the store location."

The job fair was a key expression of the Cole plan to staff the store locally. "We are looking for people with strong product knowledge in plumbing and electrical areas," Tessa explained, and offered the store's web link - http://www.colehardware.com/ - for information and application forms. (Employment information is under "About Us.")

Plans for the store's opening continue to be geared toward a debut early in January 2015. At least one long-time frustration can soon be put to rest. Now, which screwdriver...?