Community Spotlight: Thornridge Hardware Supply
by James Hess,
Falls Township Community And Economic Development Committee
In the 1950s, John Waslenko, Sr. was one of thousands who made their living working in the Fairless Works Steel Mill. Unlike most others, however, he had a different vision of his future -- he knew that he wanted to be self-employed by the age of 40. In 1967, he found a small hardware store along New Falls Road, and he became a business owner.
At that time, John, Jr. was 16 years old and a student at Pennsbury HS. After school, he would cut across the field to work at the store after school, stocking and cleaning shelves, and organizing merchandise. He and his mother helped as John Sr. continued to work different shifts at the mill until 1972 when John Sr left the mill and became a full-time small business owner. John Sr and John Jr then ran the business together until John Sr passed away in 1995, and John Jr. has been running it ever since.
In 2000, the store moved to a new larger location two doors down in the shopping center, and today, Thornridge Hardware Supply remains a family-owned and operated business. It is now into its third generation, with John Jr’s son Dan running inventory control and his mother still coming into work two days per week.
John describes his job as sometimes being like a bartender -- everyone has a story to tell you.
Many customers are local tradesmen who like to come in and chat for a while, and in doing so they often share their knowledge of how to do a job. The store employees can then turn around to a customer and say, "Hey, this guy was just in. He told me how to do this. It'll probably work for you."
On the other hand, some customers are maintenance men and others who have their own questions about how to do something, and they know that the store is a good place to come to learn something. Similarly, Thornridge Hardware thus is a great local resource for residents working on various projects who want to be “do it yourselfers” but need just a tip or shortcut or two.
It is this type of personal service that helps to distinguish Thornridge Hardware. John knows many “old timers” in their 70s and 80s how have been coming in since the store opened.
Over the years many hardware stores in the area have come and gone (14 by John’s count), but Thornridge is still going strong.