February 23-March 1, 2006
cover storyWashington Square Paint & Hardware
Center City East
"Washington Square is probably the Center City neighborhood," says John McIntyre. "You get to know everybody." Located on a boutique-lined block of 10th Street between Locust and Spruce, McIntyre's Washington Square Paint & Hardware (257 S. 10th St., 215-922-2027) is in the crowded center of a vibrant neighborhood.
The store is run by co-owners McIntyre and Troy Usnik and has been open for nearly 30 years. McIntyre remembers the neighborhood in the 1970s when it was adrift in sailor bars and rooming houses. Now, instead of taverns, his store has become the place where everybody knows your name.
"It's important that when you work in the community you give back to it." He has served on the boards of the Washington Square West Civic Association, the Police Advisory Board and the Historic Antique Row Business Association, to name only a few. "It's just been a real pleasure being in this community," says McIntyre.
"It's a great job. I have fun at workbeing in business for yourself, you make your own schedule." says Usnik. McIntyre adds, "It's not work!"
The well-organized and well-lit store boasts an extensive inventory. Items are shelved from floor to ceiling; not a square inch goes unused. Shoppers can find authentic shutter hardware and Busybodies (those nifty little Franklin mirrors that allow you to screen your callers from the third story of your row home without breaking your neck flying down the stairs), or ask the pair to rewire favorite lamps or cut custom glass for their antique tabletops.
Contractors zip in and out. "It's convenient," chimed in one happy Carhartt-clad customer as he paid for his purchase. Locals, on the other hand, may stop by just to chat with the gregarious owners.
The recent DIY trend and housing boom has certainly helped the store. Novice do-it-yourselfers need the problem-solving skills of the handy pair even more, perhaps, than they need the materials. No surprise here, but plumbing problems seem to foil homeowners most frequently. Since leak-pluggers should plan on no fewer than three trips to the hardware store per geyser, it's a good thing Washington Square will have what you need and give it to you with a smile. McIntyre notes, "People need someone they can talk to and get intelligent answers." Amen to that.