The True Value Hardware store in Jamesport is up for sale.
A letterboard sign outside of the store announces: “Hardware store for sale. Retiring.”
The store, at 1403 Main Road, had been a local go-to for tools, hardware, electrical, plumbing, lawn and garden supplies since brothers Bob and Rich DiTusa started the business with their father in 1981.
“After so many years, we both want to retire,” Bob DiTusa, 70, of Holtsville said. “We’ve had a good time over the years. We’ve made a good living and three families have lived off of this.”
The brothers are hoping to sell to someone who will continue running the store.
Bob said he’s ready for some free time with his wife, Christine, a retired Middle Country Central School District teacher to whom he’s been married for almost six years, because “the clock is ticking on all of us.” In retirement, he plans to spend part of the year in Florida with his wife, just as his brother Rich, 74, does. They’ll return in warmer months to be with their five grandchildren.
The idea for the nearly 40-year-old business came from the desire of their father, the late Joseph DiTusa Sr., to do something in his semi-retirement. Mr. DiTusa Sr., who passed in October 2017, ran a watch business through 1981. Rich worked for his father there until closing, while Bob worked in construction.
“They were talking about a store, maybe a bait store, and somehow they ended up on a hardware store,” Bob said.
The DiTusa parents, who lived in Huntington at the time, would take rides to the North Fork in search of a viable location. They found an available storefront down the street from the current store.
“It was a little hardware store and they put a down payment on it and they came home and they told us. My brother and I were all excited and after a week or two, the guy backed out. We were disappointed, so they looked around and they found this vacant building and we bought this.”
The building was renovated in 1980 and the business opened in 1981, once True Value hopped on board. In the mid-1980s, they purchased the house behind the shop for storage and office space purposes.
Bob said True Value initially had no interest in partnering with his family because “they said there weren’t enough people out here.” Mr. DiTusa Sr., however, spent three hours speaking with a True Value salesman, who was ultimately swayed, thereby helping the family obtain a mortgage.
“My father was that kind of guy,” Bob said. “We had great parents and we were raised with traditional values … We come from a family of hard workers. My sister Susan – she’s three years my minor – worked in the office.”
That’s the reason people always came back, he said.
“People know we’re going to treat them right and they happen to like us and we certainly like them. They know they’re going to get a fair shake.”
On top of that, he said, the family always made sure they had what people wanted. Having been in construction and done the work, Bob knew what it took to get the job done from start to finish. He expressed deep gratitude for the many supportive North Fork residents he’s encountered over the years.
“I’ve got to say that the people out here were great. When we opened up, there was nothing around here and they really wanted this store to open up and some of them actually helped us open it, just on their own … I’ll tell you, this has been fun. It’s not a regular job because you can hack around with people that come in and we do. People come in, man, woman, it doesn’t matter, child — everybody kids around and you can talk for the longest time.”
Bob said it’s been a wonderful life, but more of a lifestyle than a job.
“I’m going to miss it,” he said.