Our History -
A San Francisco Legacy Business
Center Hardware & Supply Co., Inc. (“Center Hardware”), located at 3003 3rd Street in the Dogpatch neighborhood, was established in 1946. Its roots, however, date back to the 1880s with origins stemming from two San Francisco hardware stores: PA Smith Hardware & Glass and Ocean View Hardware.
PA Smith Hardware & Glass was founded in the 1880s by Peter A. Smith who came to San Francisco in 1853 when he was just 20 years old. The store was located at 612 ½ Fourth Street at the corner of 4th and Brannan streets. At the time, the business primarily supplied products to the burgeoning ship repair business in San Francisco. When the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire destroyed the store, Peter rebuilt the store at 638 4th Street. In 1946, Peter sold the store to Heinz Solbach, and he renamed it Center Hardware. In 1968, Center Hardware was purchased by Richard Blanz who eventually took in partners Irwin Blanz and David Newsom.
Ocean View Hardware was founded in the late 1890s by Ernest Leinhardt after he and his half-brother Ernest Gentner immigrated from Germany to San Francisco. The original store was on Market Street, the name lost in 1906 with the fire that burned down the original location. In 1907, using insurance money, the family was able to rebuild the store, opening Ocean View Hardware at 2 Sadowa Street at San Jose Avenue. Gentner’s son, Ernest Frederick, came back to work with his uncle full time in 1947 after World War II. Eventually Ernest F. took over the store from his uncle. Ernest F.’s son Keith Gentner grew up working at his side and eventually took over Ocean View Hardware entirely.
In 1980, Richard Blanz sold his portion of Center Hardware to Keith Gentner. By this agreement, Gentner allowed Center Hardware to absorb and formally close Ocean View Hardware. In 1982, Keith bought out partners Irwin Blanz and David Newsom. 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 at 999 Mariposa Street in the Potrero Hill neighborhood. In 1995, Keith took on a new partner, Steve Leary and their partnership lasted until 2013 when Steve retired. In January 2017, after losing its lease on Mariposa Street, Center Hardware expanded and relocated again to 3003 3rd Street in the Dogpatch neighborhood, its current location, where they keep 100,000 items in stock every day.
Keith’s daughter, Jamie, joined 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.
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!