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Seattle’s Hardwick Hardware closes after 88 years due to crime, taxes

Seattle's Hardwick's Hardware store is leaving after 88 years in business. The neighborhood is evolving and taxes are too high, owners say. (Courtesy of Hardwick's Hardware)

Saturday marks the end of an era for Seattle and Hardwick & Sons Hardware. After 88 years in business, the University District store is closing their doors for the final time. Dean Hardwick joined the Dori Monson Show to discuss why.

“We’ve been here almost nine decades,” Hardwick said. “[Customers have] given a lot of condolences and they wish us the best where we’re going, and they say it’s a sad day that we’re closing. Seattle has changed and I usually respond that, ‘Well, we don’t fit into the new utopia, which unfortunately is burning down.’”

Hardwick says the city has changed a great deal from the place it once was, which he says is inspiring many people like him to leave.

“Well, it used to be a town that was an artsy town in the 70s and 80s. I had several people come up and say that they enjoyed moving here from back east or actually come over from Spokane. That was the great migration, as my wife did,” he said.

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“Now everybody is leaving. But it’s no longer a working class town. An example would be South Lake Union,” Hardwick added. “South Lake Union was a kind of a hodgepodge of small buildings here and there. There were people that were cabinetmakers, boat builders, and people who work with their hands. Now it’s just changed from that — it’s the virtual world.”

There’s also been crime in the area and multiple burglaries at Hardwick Hardware, all of which Hardwick believes is making the city a bad place to raise a family.

“It’s not a safe place for the next generation to bring up families. Not at all,” he said. “We’ve been broken into five times this year, and usually the average of some pinhead trying to break in here has been about once every decade, … so they got away with a bunch of power tools, once with a cash register. You just never know. You gotta have your cell phone by your bed because you don’t know if you’re going to get a call from the alarm company or not.”

The state taxes have also been a burden to the business.

“The taxes are definitely an irritation, not only for the feds, but for the state. We have to sit down and pay taxes 80 different times a year, and then you’re paying things like the B&O tax, and it doesn’t matter if you make any profit or not, that’s particularly irritating. And then L&I, the bureaucratic labor and industries thing. We just established compensation for employees in Idaho, and it’s about 40% less through private companies,” he said.

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“Idaho has an income tax, but all their other taxes are lower,” he added. “And so if you don’t make much money, then you don’t pay much tax.”

Though this may be the end of their business in Seattle, it will be surviving as they make their move to Northern Idaho. After 88 years, what does Hardwick think it will feel like when he locks up for the last time?

“One thing that’s an aspect of the faith is that you have to learn to let go, and I’m letting go of here. I’m going to miss the people, the customers most of all, especially the ones that I’ve known coming in and been on a friendly basis with — that’s going to be the sad thing,” he said.

“But I’m looking forward to Idaho,” he continued. “I just got Idaho plates on my car and I did a little hop-skip in their office on the way out. It’s a new beginning.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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