LACONIA – The neighborhood hardware store is coming back to Union Avenue. The former Trustworthy Hardware store, which closed in August, will reopen soon as the second hardware store operated by the same company that operates Heath Hardware in Center Harbor.

Dave Petell, president of E.M. Heath, Inc., said his company has signed a lease agreement with Nick Tamposi and Craig Gruskowski, who purchased the real estate from the Langlitz Family this summer. Even though there’s a Lowe’s to the location’s north and Boulia-Gorrell to its south, Petell said that the Heath Hardware store will stand out from the big box and lumber yard competitors.

“You don’t have the neighborhood hardware store in Laconia,” said Petell. That was the niche filled by Trustworthy, which was started by Moe Martineau about 40 years ago. Martineau’s daughter, Pam Langlitz, ran the store for most of those years after her father suffered a heart attack.

Petell said that, like the store in Center Harbor, the location at 1084 Union Avenue will carry ACE branded merchandise and cater to the homeowner.

“The whole building has been gutted, we’re trying to refresh it now,” Petell said. “Logistics in our favor, we hope to open by Christmas.”

The Union Avenue store will employ around 15 people, Petell said, which is several more than were working at Trustworthy. Shoppers will recognize some of those faces, as a few of the people who had worked for Trustworthy have asked to make the switch to Heath. Petell said he doesn’t anticipate having a hard time finding candidates for the rest of the positions.

“We’ve had well over a dozen applications at this time… We’re well on our way to staffing the store,” he said.

In addition to the Heath Hardware store, E.M. Heath, Inc. operates three food stores: Heath’s Market in Center Harbor, JoJo’s Country Store in Moultonborough and the Golden Pond Country Store in Holderness.

It might seem curious timing for an expansion into Laconia, given that it’s taking place in the middle of a global pandemic, but Petell said that 2020 has been a good year for hardware stores.

“The D.I.Y. homeowners are not vacationing, they’re staying around the home, therefore the money that they would have spent traveling, they’re using around the house,” he said. “We felt it was an opportunity… to fill a gap that was left with the Trustworthy Hardware store. I think there’s quite a bit of potential in Laconia.”

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