You got to admit, it’s kind of cool: teenage clerk grows up to become the shopkeeper. Yep. That’s the classic American dream and Adam Hagan is living it. Adam is the latest owner of historic Madison Park Hardware.
In 2010, Adam purchased the store from the McKee Family who had served the community for over 54 years. Lola McKee, the unofficial Mayor of Madison Park, had a very specific vision for the continuity of the family’s business and Adam fit the bill perfectly. He is a fourth generation Madison Park resident and attended local public schools and the University of Washington. He worked for many years during both high school and college as a clerk in the store. When Scott McKee, Lola’s son, died; Adam stepped right in to help out. After much thought, Lola and daughter Jeri came to the decision that the business was too much for the two of them to manage and it was time to sell. Adam was there to take up the reins. It was a smooth transition.
Adam understands his community and is committed to preserving the store’s familiar and beloved persona. It’s still a family business. Adam’s dad pops in at lunchtime to give everyone a break and his mom keeps the books. Girlfriend Christine is there during the busy Saturdays. Everything one could possibly need is available: gardening supplies, kitchen gadgets, light bulbs, hardware, paint and the uber-popular central aisle full of delightful classic children’s toys including Legos. Customer service is unmatched anywhere in the universe.
Adam describes the community response to the transition:
“When I purchased the business, I think the community was keeping a close eye on what was going to happen with the store. If I were not the new owner, I would have been doing the exact same thing, so I appreciated hearing people’s perceptions. I got questions about inventory as we moved a few things around and found a designated place for everything. People were also curious if we were going to carry the same kinds of things, or if we were going to add any major lines of products. One man even said that he hoped we were not going to put down floor tile to make the store ‘more formal.’ People would come in and say, ‘I don’t know what it is, but something’s different over there,’ as they gestured to an area of the store. In reality, very little has changed. The lighting is better, the store is cleaner and there is a daily effort to keep things organized. We manage over 8,000 different items, so this is a necessity for me. For the most part, people like the more organized look, although some still miss the old way, which was more like a treasure hunt in some areas of the store.”
Adam says that one of his challenges lies in the smallness of the space. Many suppliers require minimum orders that are not in keeping with his business. Still he seems to keep the customers satisfied. At the request of many, he has begun stocking jugs of vinegar to be used as a “natural” cleaning product and herbicide. Requests for earth-friendly products are a trend. Adam tracks customer requests and when they have a source for something and space allows, they try to add the item.
And again, there’s that customer service. Regulars feel comfortable with long-term clerk, Richard, and equally at home with Kim, who works part time. Both are friendly and seem to possess unlimited knowledge about everything the store has to offer. Why would anyone even consider struggling in one of those huge, impersonal and confusing mega-stores?
Although famous in Madison Park proper, perhaps the store is less well known in the wider community of Madison Valley, Montlake, Madrona, and Leschi. It seems that the majority of businesses proliferating in our neighborhoods tend to be banks, restaurants, and gift shops. It is a delightful wonder that a small business, which caters to our everyday needs, still exists.
Asked about what he wants the community to know about the store, Adam says “Just that we’re here, we love to keep our customers happy, and we have three parking places in the back that are always available.”
Ahh! Parking! Let’s see. I need twine, a new measuring cup, light bulbs…
Madison Park Hardware
1837 42nd Avenue East
(at the corner of E Madison and 42nd Ave E.)
Open: Monday–Saturday, 9AM–6PM