Mt. Horeb's original hardware store is now a showcase for Duluth Ingenuity
It opened with appropriate ballyhoo in 1882, as P.G. Krogh's hardware store. Like all such stores of the time, it soon became the lifeblood of the small town of Mt. Horeb, a central meeting place for farmers and townspeople and their families, as they shopped for the fencing, lumber, nails and other supplies they needed to build the first farms, stores and homes.
In 1909, it was purchased by the Beat family, who operated the Mount Horeb Hardware Company for the next 91 years. It wasn't the fancy kind of hardware store we're familiar with today, full of shiny plastic-wrapped merchandise. Everything was available in bulk, stored in big bins. Many thicknesses of rope were stored in the basement, snaked up through holes in the main floor so customers could cut what they needed.
A local resident remembers: "The guys who worked there knew where everything was. If you came in with some part that was broken, they knew exactly where to find what you needed to fix it. You'd walk up and down the aisles, on those creaky wood floors."
An old sign from the store includes the slogan "Practice real economy" – still makes a lot of sense today! The Beats did business in a friendly, straightforward way, letting their customers charge what they needed. It was a pleasure to shop there.
Anecdotes about the store are too numerous to detail here, but one incident takes the cake. In the early 1980's a majestic buck in rut went berserk in the town, tearing up people's gardens and sending kids running for cover. Finally, it jumped right through the front window of the hardware store! (Good thing they stocked plenty of glazing supplies.)
In 2000, the mercantile building took an unexpected detour from the hardware business, when it became the home of the Mt. Horeb Mustard Museum.
Now, as the Duluth Trading store, the spirit of the old mercantile building is restored, and once again it will be a place where men gather, ponder over projects and problems, and share a story or two. And maybe try on a pair of Fire Hose® pants.