Peter Smith came to San Francisco in 1853 when he was just 20 years old, and opened PA Smith Hardware & Glass on the corner of 4th and Brannan Streets. When the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire destroyed the store, he rebuilt. In the 1930s, Heinz Zolbach purchased the shop and renamed it Center Hardware. Zolbach operated Center Hardware until he sold it to the Blanz family in the 1970s.
The Modern Era
In 1980, Keith Gentner bought into Center Hardware and became partners with Richard Blanz. Keith had spent his youth working with his father, Ernie Gentner, who had owned Ocean View Hardware (on Sadowa Street at San Jose Avenue) since he’d returned from WWII in the 1940s — that store also had a rich history that dated back to the early 1900s. Within a few years, business at Center Hardware was booming. Keith expanded business services and inventory to the point that the little store on 4th Street was bursting at the seams. In 1988, Center Hardware moved into a 20,000-square-foot building that had been previously used for steel manufacturing on Mariposa Street in the Potrero Hill neighborhood.
Keith’s daughter, Jamie, rejoined the business full-time in 1998. The father-daughter team is committed to continuing Center Hardware’s long-standing mission to serve the Bay Area by providing both a tremendous on-site inventory and concierge-level customer service.
Center Hardware Today
In January 2017, with the help of their unparalleled team
, Center Hardware moved to the Dogpatch neighborhood, where they keep 100,000 items in stock every day. Whether you need a single light bulb — or bulbs for the entire Bay Bridge — we have your back. Call us!