COVID-19 and Historic Houseparts

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the way we are all used to living and doing business, we want to update you on how the pandemic has affected us at Historic Houseparts. In March, we closed down after the state mandated non-essential businesses to do so. At the end of March, when business had dropped to nothing and we (and many businesses) were contemplating having to close indefinitely, we began COVID cleaning and looking at the future of the business. Brick and mortar retail is on the way out, but we had just launched a brand new website that took us almost 2 years to develop. Literally, it launched at the end of February 2020. Would it be enough to keep us going? It did not look that way at the end of March, or even April. Things were bleak, for us and every business owner we knew. 

In early April we realized that as a retailer of building materials, we were considered essential so we opened up with a very limited staff (2 amazing employees who chose to stick by our sides) and began trying to work out a safe way to stay open. We forged a new business model that centered around curbside pickup and online sales. We were able to bring back most of our staff in late spring.

Speaking of failing brick and mortar: long deferred maintenance issues with the 1890 brick rowhouse that serves as the control center for the business were coming to a head at the same time as COVID was settling in to our lives. The back wall of our building had begun leaking due to deteriorating soft orange bricks, and we had a roof leak. So it was time to address these issues, regardless of whether the business continued or not. And our antique hardware department, which had been inadequately managed for years and also located against the back wall that was leaking, had turned into an ugly disorganized mess of treasures waiting to be rediscovered. Now, during the "pause", was the time to tackle all of it.

So, concurrently, we began fixing the wall, the roof, and the antique hardware department. And our office, which is another story for another day. With help from some fantastic Preservation Interns, new staff, and friends whom we can never adequately repay, we moved and sorted all the antique hardware and began cleaning, restoring and listing these items online. Since April, we have listed over 1,000 pieces of our antique door and furniture hardware onto this new website. In addition to listing them, we are now also striving to provide you with the details of the items: names of designs, manufacturers, and years of production, to better understand these items we are offering. 

Research has become central to this project, and I have embraced it and am now thoroughly entrenched in antique hardware once again, which is what drew me to this business 25 years ago. I am once again a card-carrying member of the Antique Doorknob Collectors of America, after a lapse. We had the opportunity to visit the Lock Museum of America in Terryville, CT this summer which was the (super geeky) highlight of my summer. (We now have a lifetime membership). My research continues daily, and we have now accumulated a massive library of historic catalogs to help us research the antique hardware we offer. This library will help us better understand the items we sell, and help us offer you a higher level of knowledge and service in our antique hardware department. 

The repair work on the building took months longer than we expected (and continues), and the sorting of the antique hardware department continues still, but we are finally at the point where we are happy to welcome you back into our store to see the changes, and check out the new & (vastly) improved Historic Houseparts. You'll see some friendly new staff members we are excited to welcome onto our team too. Thank you to all of you who tolerated our curbside pickups and front step shopping service while we were deep in the construction and sorting. We know it was inconvenient, it was for us too. 

A final note on the pandemic, which is what started us on this journey. We all thought it would be over in a few months. It will now be with us for many more months, so we have taken steps to make the store as safe as possible for you and our staff. We have upgraded our furnace filters, we have HEPA air purifiers on each sales floor, and our staff is separated from you by antique glass windows (of course) when doing transactions. Masks are required of course, and we have touchless hand sanitizer dispensers at the doors of the two main buildings. Our staff is conscientious about social distancing. So come on in and see us or check out the new website, start with the New Arrivals page, to see all the items we are adding daily. 

Stay safe!