DeLuca Hardware closing after nearly 30 years

Guiliano DeLuca, 72, sits atop a stack of 50-pound bags of mulch and watches the morning customers pull into the driveway of his hardware store, DeLuca Hardware, just behind Toozy Patza pizzeria on Route 7.

They are familiar faces. They always are. That’s the way it’s been for this thriving local business that opened in the 1980s.

It has weathered the storm against competition from big-box retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s, and from the Internet.

“Our specialty is helping people get out of a jam,” said DeLuca. “That’s what I’m going to miss.”

He’ll miss it because he’s retiring. After a long time trying to sell the business — he does not own the building itself — he could not find a buyer so he is just going to close up shop.

That means some big discounts on lawn rakes, fertilizer spreaders and whatever else the hardware-inspired imagination can pick out of the bones of the 5,400-square-foot store.

He knows the reason he couldn’t find a buyer.

“People today don’t want to take a chance on a ‘mom and pop’ business,” he said, pointing to the previously mentioned factors of big-box retailers and the Internet.

Local business is a precarious line to hold. Rents always seem to go up, and so do taxes. But customer traffic and revenue can only grow so fast.

“The taxes always go up, but the money doesn’t,” he said emphatically.

So he’s packing it all in with a huge end-of-summer sale and planning on going on the road in his recreational vehicle, with his wife, to see the U.S.A.

“We’ll be out on the road for three or four months,” he said. Then it’s back to his home in Redding, where he’ll spend time with his grandchildren.

DeLuca took the business over in 2005 from his brothers, Bruno and Tony, who started it in the 1980s, taking over a retail property that for years had been a head shop known as The Home, selling glassware smoking pipes and bongs. He draws loyal customers from Wilton, Redding and Weston.

He’s not the only one who will miss the people.

“Sometimes people come in just to stop by, not even to buy anything,” said worker Mike Nustin of Redding, who is 68 and already semi-retired, working part-time. Now he’ll go full retired.

“I'll miss talking to the people,” Nustin said.