If you’ve ever driven through Ottawa’s Little Italy, you’ll quickly notice a not-so-little hardware store standing out amongst the eateries. This is Preston Hardware, a staple in the Ottawa community with a rich history that dates back to 1945. Today, it is Canada’s largest independent hardware store that services the entire Ottawa-Gatineau region.
Angelo Locatelli and William Germain founded the store in 1945, modernizing it a few years later to become the first self-serve hardware store in the Capital Region. It wasn’t until 1973 that present owners Mario and Sam Giannetti and their brother-in-law Mario Frangione bought the store, and focused on growing the business into the 100,000 square foot warehouse and retail space that stands today.
Walking into the store, you get the sense that you are in a business with its roots firmly in the community, giving little impression of the true scope of their business operations; the store caters to every type of customer, from home owners, to interior decorators, to large contractors and commercial companies with a price-match guarantee.
Maybe it’s the owner-on-site policy that reminds you that you’re in a family business. Or maybe it’s the care and experience of the employees you interact with – from the front-of-store staff all the way to management – that does this. Either way, you leave the store feeling that you chose a local business that cares.
And the idea that Preston Hardware is just a hardware store is quickly outdone when you walk into their Bath and Kitchen Design Centre. The centre spans two entire floors and showcases jaw-dropping trends in kitchen and bath from major cities around the world, providing in-store design services to a wide range of professional clients throughout the planning, purchasing and execution phases of their bathroom or kitchen projects.
Many might be surprised to learn of Preston Wine, another division of their business that for thirty years has and continues to sell winemaking supplies and wine juices. In season (September to January), they actually offer one of the largest selections of fresh and frozen grapes, musts and juices in Canada, one that can fit every budget to meet the needs of any winemaker.
Approaching their 75-year anniversary, Preston Hardware continues to have a huge presence in not just the Italian community in Ottawa, but the region as a whole. Preston Hardware believes in giving back to the Ottawa community by supporting several charities, fundraising initiatives and attending fundraising events each year. There is a consensus within its customer base on why Preston Hardware has managed to build itself to be the largest independent hardware store in the country. Their ownership group has always felt that customers should never have to compromise when going local – they have made it their number one priority to always offer the service, selection and value that you would find at any large retailer, to match it, and to exceed it.
They continue to do this as they celebrate their 75th anniversary as both a physical and historical landmark of our community.