PhinneyWood is full of wonderful people and great places that we all wish we knew more about. Resident Kevin Kozel periodically digs deeper to let us know more in a column we like to call … Hi Neighbor!
If you live in PhinneyWood, you know Marty Spiegel. Even if you don’t “know” Marty Spiegel, you know him. It’s just one of the rites of passage that comes with becoming a resident. You move in, you need a light bulb or some duct tape and you head to Greenwood Hardware because it’s a few minutes away … and that’s when you learn that this is not just any local hardware store. One of the many polite and helpful employees helps you out, but if wasn’t Marty you probably still saw him helping another customer. He always seems to be there, helping everyone get to the bottom of their latest home need. It’s time we got to know more about the man that everyone in PhinneyWood knows.
Kevin Kozel (KK): Marty, how long have you been here at Greenwood Hardware?
Marty Spiegel (MS): I came back from New York in ’93. I’ve been working here since early ’94. This was my retirement.
KK: So 25 years then.
MS: Someone mentioned that to me the other day. I never count, but yes, nearly 25 years. People come in whose kids I saw when they were little babies and now they’re teenagers. Some of them even have their own kids! It makes me think a little bit about it.
KK: Being here that long, with people coming and going, you probably know some of these homes better than the people that live in them.
MS: That may be. I may not have actually seen what was done in a house, but I’ve talked to lots of people about what they were going to do; the bathrooms, the plumbing, some of the construction, backyards, decks, all that kind of stuff.
KK: I’m sure you’ve fielded all kinds of questions over the years.
MS: We solve a lot of things. We basically work as translators. Customers come in and they say, “I’ve got this thing and it looks like this.” We have to figure out what it is, what they need, or how best we can fix it. We act as a pep talk team and give them a little information on how you do this or that.
KK: What makes a neighborhood hardware store like Greenwood Hardware different than all of the giant chains out there?
MS: Because we’ve been here since 1948, almost everybody knows us. We’ve managed to hold our own because we really are a “green” store and have been for a long time. We focus on environmental issues and I think people appreciate that. It’s that kind of town. We also focus on the fact that the neighborhood is changing, and we try and listen to what people tell us and go after that.
KK: Sometimes I forget just how many different things you have here. The store is bigger than it seems, but if I ever need a light bulb or a battery, it’s easy for me to just pop right over and pick it up.
MS: I think people feel that way about us and that’s good. That’s what we want. We don’t expect people to spend thousands of dollars here. Some people do, but if you come in and need 49 cents of nuts and bolts that’s perfectly fine. That’s what we’re here to do.
KK: What about this winter? It’s seemed pretty demanding.
MS: This winter was a strange occurrence. In the space of those February storms we had trucks bringing us snow melt, sleds, shovels. Whatever they had in the warehouse we took. People were lined up in the store waiting for us to unload the truck and it would be gone in an hour. That happened five days in a row.
KK: I thought you all handled it very well. All of the stores around here were running out of things.
MS: The best policy for us was to communicate that we had more on order and when we thought it would be here. We put stuff online telling people to check our website. In fairness to everybody, we decided that we would limit how many things people could buy. If we ran out, we would make sure the next person in line was first tomorrow. We made sure the people who were patient about it got covered. It worked well and most people were cool about it.
KK: Last question, what is the best part of being the “Marty at Greenwood Hardware” that everybody knows?
MS: Meeting the people and the dogs (laughs). In my private life I’m very quiet, so this is my social time. I get to see people I know, that I’ve known for years, meet new people, and help them with a problem. I like that. Problem solving is what I do and it’s what I’ve done with all of the kinds of things that I’ve done. So I’m going to keep doing it until they carry me out of here.
If you’ve got a problem for Marty to solve, visit him at 7201 Greenwood Ave North.
Any person, place, or thing you want to know more about in our neighborhood? Feel free to drop us a line or leave a comment and we’ll look into making it a future feature on Hi Neighbor!