Trips Abroad: Jerry's Hardware in Narragansett
“Jerry, you’re nuts. That’s nuthin’ but a cart path.”
“That’s what they told my grandfather when he decided to build a store on Route 108 in Narragansett,” recounts Rob Ferraro. “Well, that was in 1950. Today, 17,000 cars a day move through the 108 intersection at Woodruff Avenue. In midsummer, it’s about 27,000.”
Rob, owner and operator of Jerry’s Hardware, took over from his father, Bob, who, Rob says, “Is our official greeter who opens the door and kisses the babies. All kidding aside, though, I need his advice and help. We have 18 employees and we need every single one of them to assist our customers.”
Besides being Rob’s back-up, Bob Ferraro is also the source of much of the lore concerning Jerry’s Hardware. “His flush lever story is one of my favorites,” says Rob. With the flavor and pacing of a Letterman lead-in, Rob tells about a customer who asks for a flush lever, a handle for a commode. His father explains that there are several kinds and that he should “bring it in.” Rob delivers the gag line: “Next time my dad sees him, he’s hefting the whole commode onto the counter.”
Flush levers are just one of the over 37,000 items available at Jerry’s Hardware. You can find that odd-size bolt you need or you can find something to put on your wish list — the BBQ Guru Cyber Q WiFi, for example, that allows you to control the temperature of your grill from your smartphone or tablet. Think about it. You’re on the mainland and that piece of salmon will be perfect by the time you’re back on then island. “The BBQ Guru is selling like crazy,” says Rob, “along with a great grill, the Big Green Egg.”
Rob’s enthusiasm and business savvy have been recognized by nationwide retailing organizations. A 34-year-old University of Rhode Island graduate, Rob was selected as Young Retailer of the Year in 2011 by the North American Retailer Hardware Association. In 2012, Jerry’s Hardware was listed in the association’s Top 50 Hardware Stores.
“We say that we’re an old fashioned hardware store with modern products,” says Rob. The BBQ Guru is certainly a good example of “modern products,” but the item that might best typify the “old fashioned” aspect is a coffee pot that hangs from the ceiling just inside the front door. Next time you watch “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” odds are you’ll see Humphrey Bogart pick up a coffee pot like this from the campfire.
Readers that remember Bogart and “Treasure” are probably of the vintage who will also remember the long-handled tongs used to retrieve items from the top shelves of retail stores. Well, like the traditional local hardware store, Jerry’s has shelves from floor to ceiling, but even amid relatively close quarters, they’re expanding. “We’re moving into floor coverings,” he explained. “We’ll have a wide variety and the ability to customize.”
Jerry’s Hardware does a brisk business with Block Islanders. “We’re conveniently located,” noted Rob. “We track the ferry schedule because we deliver twice a day to the boat. But we know the whole schedule anyway because of the influx of Block Islanders. They give us good support and we try to give back by supporting various events sponsored by groups like the Lions Club and the Harbor Church.”
Jerry’s Hardware is located across the road (viz. cart path) from Stop and Shop (or to put priorities in the proper order: Stop and Shop is across the road from Jerry’s Hardware). The store is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. You may contact them at (401) 783-4666 and at the themosquitostore.com.