South Philly Hardware Store Celebrates 100 Years In Business

South Philly Hardware Store Celebrates 100 Years In Business

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SOUTH PHILADELPHIA -

A South Philadelphia hardware store is celebrating one hundred years in business this week.

Mitchell Cohen has been selling all manner of whatchamacallits, thingamabobs and doouhikies for as long as he can remember.

As the fourth generation owner of Cohen and Company Hardware and Homegoods at 615 East Passynunk Avenue, Cohen's love affair with tools and the people who buy them began when he was just a teen.

"I said, 'I really like this, dealing with people. And I didn't love going to school that much. (I'd say) let's go home, let's go to the store- let's go to the store on weekends- no, I want to work. I want to be with dad' "Michael said.

Now in its fourth location near South Street, Cohen and Company has become a neighborhood institution- a hundred years in business, through good times and bad.

Mitchell survives despite competition from the two giants of the industry; a Home Depot- just a short drive away opens earlier and closes later than Cohen's place seven days a week. Just a few blocks farther south, a Lowe's also has extended hours, and offers more products than Cohen could hope to stock in his small store.

Cohen insists he doesn't worry about the big boys. What he doesn't stock, he can usually order big ticket item or a couple of light bulbs all the while, making friends out of customers...

"I've had people come in to buy one little thing- it's a little pack of screws, and you wind up talking about how you're feeling or maybe suggesting a doctor to them or...so it's really about this community that's helped us survive all these years," Michael said.

Cohen's regular customers have followed him from address to address for decades. They are a loyal bunch.

This Saturday at noon, Cohen's will celebrate its hundredth birthday with a block party, right in front of the store. Everyone is welcome: longtime customers and perfect strangers.

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