It’s the end of an era as Gardiner’s Hardware closes due to retirement

FOR ALMOST seventy four years Gardiners Hardware has been serving the people of Ballymena, but at the end of May, the local institution is to close its doors for the final time.

News of the store’s closure will be sad for customers however this decision has been made by staff who have decided to take well earned retirement.

George Gardiner opened the hardware store in 1938 on Ballymoney Street. Following George’s death in 1965 his wife Rose continued running the business.

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George’s son Jack became involved in the business after Rose’s death in 1992 and it was Jack’s influence that brought about the moving to the shop to its present site in Henry Street in 1999.

Throughout all these changes in the shop, manager Jim Thompson remained a constant presence behind the counter and with Mary Montague in the office, enabled the business to function to the present day.

Jack was a lecturer in the North East Institute for 33 years and did not expect a second career in hardware retail. Now after sixteen years his second retirement will mean the closure of the popular Harryville shop.

Over the years the business has grown a loyal customer base and all who have worked at Gardiner’s Hardware would like to express their thanks for this support. One group of customers would come in every Saturday morning just to chat among friends and although nothing was bought, there was always great craic, like a scene from the Last of the Summer Wine.

To be in business over seventy years is a testament to the hard work and excellent service provided by the staff, especially considering at one time there were twenty four hardware stores in Ballymena.

Jim Thompson has recently retired after working in the shop for over fifty years, Jack said: “I can remember Jim telling me about the news of the Munich air crash in 1958 when I was at school, so Jim was working at the shop then and has worked there ever since.”

Recently Jack’s wife Margaret has been helping out in the business and both would wish all involved in Gardiner’s Hardware over the years, a long and happy retirement.