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Placerville Hardware

02/28/2009 04:00PM ● Published by Super Admin

It is wholly appropriate that Placerville Hardware is known as the oldest hardware store this side of the Mississippi. Upon entering the store, you begin to notice certain things. The floor is scored with scratches, nicks and dents; it is well worn with the accumulated foot traffic of more than 150 years. Glancing to the immediate right while still in the doorway, a framed black and white picture hangs on the wall. It is a snapshot of the store in its early days, back when the wooden counters were relatively fresh and unmarked. In comparison, the store remains somewhat unchanged, save for the weathering of age, a difference in items sold, and an increase in store size.

David Fausel, the current owner of Placerville Hardware, states that the store started out as a tinshop in the early 1850s; that is, it sold cookpans and fryware. Over the passing years the ownership of the store changed hands a few times, and the name of the store changed as well. Past owner Joe McKee changed the store name to Placerville Hardware in the early 1900s, and it hasn’t changed since. McKee sold the store to Albert Kyburz in the late 1940s, and in 1952 Kyburz sold the store to Frank Fausel and his two brothers. The Fausel family has been running the store now for roughly three generations. David Fausel took the helm in 1983 when his father, Frank, stepped down. David’s son Albert will manage the store after David steps down.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about the store is how well it has survived, even thrived, over the last 150-plus years. Still true to its tinshop origins, the store offers cookware and other kitchen accessories. Yet that is only a part of the store inventory, as it has considerably expanded its stock over the years to keep up with changing times and necessities. Another interesting fact about Placerville Hardware is that it is a lasting piece of old “Main Street America” that hasn’t been turned into a souvenir or antiques shop, like many other historical buildings. Instead, it remains a very relevant part of Placerville. Not just in history but also in business. David Fausel credits the store’s success over the years with its ability to sell “a little bit of everything,” while providing excellent customer service. The only trouble with running the store, according to Fausel, is having enough room. In providing a little bit of everything, it turns out that maintaining enough room for all the various items offered in the store is hard work. From featuring items that range from hardware to cookware to electronics and things in between, it seems that there will always be a need for Placerville Hardware in Placerville, no matter what changes come along in the future. It is appropriate that the floorboards, shelves, and even the store itself, have survived into the current day. They represent a piece of California history thriving in the present. •

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