Born in 1833, Peter Smith came to San Francisco in 1853 and opened PA Smith Hardware & Glass on the corner of 4th and Brannan streets. When the 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed his shop he moved Smith Hardware to a ramshackle building on Bluxome Street. PA Smith Hardware & Glass stayed in business on Bluxome Street until the 4th and Brannan store was rebuilt. In the 1930s the shop was sold to Heinz Zolbach and the store name was changed to Center Hardware. Zolbach operated Center Hardware until the Blanz family bought the store in the 1970s.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town…
When Ernie Gentner returned from WWII in the 1940s he took over the operation of Ocean View Hardware in San Francisco’s Ocean View neighborhood. Ernie and his son, Keith Gentner, turned Ocean View Hardware into a robust neighborhood business complete with tool rentals and other services.
In 1980, Keith Gentner bought into Center Hardware and became partners with Richard Blanz. Ocean View Hardware was no more, but business at Center Hardware was booming. Within a few years, Gentner had expanded Center Hardware’s business and inventory to the point that the little store on 4th Street was bursting at the seams. In 1987, Center Hardware moved to its current location on Mariposa Street and the merchandise grew to 20,000 square feet. With the help of its unparalleled employees, Center Hardware now operates daily with more than 60,000 items and specialized concierge-level service.
A local, family-owned business, Keith Gentner and his daughter, Jamie, now run and operate Center Hardware. The father-daughter team is committed to continuing Center Hardware’s esteemed reputation and extensive product lines that have served the Bay Area for generations.
Whether you need a single light bulb, or bulbs for the entire Bay Bridge, we have your back. Call us.