Hollywood Hardware, a family-owned mainstay on Freeport Boulevard for 67 years, is about to get a new look under a new owner.
The Messner family recently sold the Hollywood Park store to a friend, Tom Tognetti, in June. Tognetti already owns three other hardware stores: Pagano’s Hardware Mart and Pagano’s Hardware Towne Centre, both in Alameda, and Fredericksen Hardware in San Francisco, and a wholesale electronics company he founded in 1985.
Tognetti plans to take down some walls, paint the ceiling white (compared to a dull, industrial brown) and move almost every section in the store around, expanding and adding merchandise (particularly in the paint section) and establishing an entire outdoor and gardening area in front of the store with plants and fountains, he said.
“I want to have people come in here and say, ‘Let’s go down to the hardware store and see what’s new at Hollywood Hardware,’ ” Tognetti said. “I want to breathe some new life into it. I want to take a great store and just make it a super store.”
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Though it’s the first time the business has been owned by anyone other than a Messner, Tognetti has been friends with Denny Messner and his father for about 50 years.
They are both veterans of the hardware business who have adapted to a climate in which big chains such as Home Depot and Lowe’s dominate.
“You’ve got to be ringwise and know how to compete against the big-box stores,” Messner said. “As many people there are around, it takes somebody who’s been there and done it.”
Tognetti is that person, Messner said.
Messner, who still owns the property, started working at his family’s stores at age 7, sweeping floors, cutting keys and pouring paint into paint thinner bottles. He started operating Hollywood Hardware when he was 18 and bought the store from his parents in 1974. Now, at 77, Messner said he just doesn’t want to be working when he hits 80.
Before selling to Tognetti, he considered selling to one of his four children, but he said they didn’t express interest in running the hardware store. They are in their 40s and 50s and already established within their own careers.
“I said (to Tom), ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do.’ And he said, ‘Well, how about I buy it?’ And so that’s how it happened,” Messner said. “I kinda felt that that’s the way I sold it, on the handshake.”
Customers can expect the same employees to remain despite the change in ownership.
Brian Lim, 36, has been coming to the store with his parents and grandparents since he was a kid. Lim, who actually works at Home Depot, sends customers to Hollywood Hardware when the big-box store doesn’t have what they are looking for.
“It’s more than a store,” Lim said. “I smell it and it really does feel like home. It’s nice and safe and you know you’re going to be taken care of or get exactly what you need.”