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June 26, 1980


Editor's Note: Although The Review Times carried a brief item in its 1980 Update Edition about Fruth Hardware, I have prepared a more detailed story about the oldest commercial business in town, so readers will have the complete story about the 73 year-old business started by Jake Fruth.

In September 1907 J.F. "Jake" Fruth purchased the Sheet Metal Shop on E. Tiffin St. from Sheely and Brumbagh, where Buds Bakery is now.

Sheely was "W.J." who was later associated with Basehore, in the coal busi- ness, and the father of Wilbur, a former resident who is known to many Fos- torians. Brumbaugh was "Jake," the grandfather of Merdith, deceased, also known to many Fostorians.


When Jake Fruth lived on a farm south of town, he built brick furnaces for neighbors and bought his furnace pipe from Sheely and Brumbaugh. That is how they met.

After Fruth bought them out he added roofing and tin-work to the shop along with a small stock of hardware, mostly pots and pans, and Fruth Hardware was began.

Ira Cadwallader was building a new business block on S. Main St., and Jake thought it would be a good place for his business because of the additional traffic. He thought the town could use one more hardware store, so, he rented the room at 226 S. Main St. for $25 per month and sub-leased the back part for it, to the Express Co.

Jake Fruth later admitted he was partially coaxed over to Main St. by Johnny Williams, who had The Recreation Poolroom on the same block. Williams was the grandfather of Vincent and Glenn Williams, known to many readers.

Jake Fruth has remarked in historical data that one reason for the traffic by his store was because of the Post Office close by, then located in the build- ing where the Firestone Store is today.

Back then, another local hardware store was Kingseed Hardware, located where the VFW Headquarters are now. When Kingseed went out of business, the Post Office moved to that location.


After Fruth located on Main Street, Jake added the manufacturing of stove pipe to his tinshop division. He became a traveling man in the summer and took orders from other hardware stores for miles around for stove pipes, elbows and canvas gloves. Most of the shipments were made via the electric interurbans that served Fostoria and areas north, south, east and west.

By the era of World War I, steel became scarce and expensive, and the stove- pipe and farm machinery businesses dropped. The electric age had arrived and the store changed to suit the age, with many new items added to the store's line.

As the years passed and the Fruth family expanded, the business grew too, with each new family member joining the store's workforce...first Eldon, then Wal- ter and Norman and Helen's husband Henry Spooner. By the early 1950s others working in the store were Gilbert Fruth, Harry Bricker, Ormal Jones, Raymond Bricker, Dick Widmer, Minnie Wade and Dee Dowell. Helen Fruth (Spooner) helped out on special occasions. Jack Fruth continued as principle stock- holder and manager of the store until his death in 1954 giving him 47 years of service.


Many readers will remember the above names, and perhaps other fulltime or parttime employees who worked at Fruth Hardware at various other times in the past, present:

They are J.F. Fruth, founder, Mrs. M.L. Trubey, Eldon Fruth, Daniel Fruth, Walter Fruth, Norman Fruth, Henry Spooner, George Stahl, Kenneth Stuckey, Tom Storey, C.J. Keefe, James Hohman, Rose Weber, Louis Schnitzler, Carl Carson, Paul Kintz, Don Etchen, Harold Slotterbeck.

Susan Doe, Nina Huth, C.E. Alspach, Leonard Walker, Dorothy Clapper, Mildred Rumple, Loretta Bricker, Nina O'Connor, Randy Slotterbeck, Ed Kromer, Nick Buchman, Alice Stevenson, Pauline Hartman, Eugene Schalk, Don Schalk, Ed Collins.

Richard Collins, Jon Fruth, Tom Fruth, Richard Fruth, Edward Bugner, Paul Bingle, David Spooner, Barbara Fruth, Pat Collins, Dan Harrison, Edward Fruth, John Wade, Eugene Fisher, Glen Walker, Robert Moran, John Rasey, James Lucius, Craig Hoerig, Phil Martin.

Bruce Brandeberry, Steve Kinn, Randy Arnold, Anthony Schmitz, Richard Reiss, Edward McCandless, Richard Feehan, James Schring, Dinah Fruth, Lester Earl, Clark Buttons, Steve Jones, Kevin Niswander, George Hadacek, Helen Spooner, Dorothy Fruth, Harold Hoerig, Rob Hoerig, Jennie Duffey, Elinor Fruth, Dorothy Warren and Nancy Hoerig.


The only "oldtimers" left are Norman Fruth and Henry Spooner, both part-time workers. Norman has put in 52 years, not including part time work as a youth.

Henry managed a branch store in Dunkirk for several years before joining the Fostoria store in 1935, making him a 48 year employee.

Eldon Fruth, the oldest of the Fruth children died in 1972, after 52 years of service. Walter Fruth retired in 1970 with 50 years of service.

Fruth Hardware is now owned by Hal Hoerig, who purchased it from the Fruth family in 1973. Hoerig was not a newcomer to the hardware business, having been a salesman for George Worthington Co., Cleveland, one of the oldest hardware wholesalers in the U.S.


Other hardware stores that have come and gone in Fostoria through the years are: The Alcott Hardware, 103 S. Main; Newson & Poe, 201 N. Main; F.R. Stewart, 202 S. Main; D.S. Mowery, 205 N. Main; E.L. Harpster, 205 N. Main; L.R. Wade, 130 E. Center; Mahony-Munger, 202 S. Main; J.L. Jewson, 201 N. Main; Fostoria Hardware, 102 S. Main; Hoyt-Brooks, 205 N. Main; Park Munder, 201 N. Main; W.A. Jones & Sons, 205 N. Main; Swint-Parks, 202 S. Main; Timanus, 205 N. Main.

But Fruth Hardware goes on and on.


The progressive attitude that Jake Fruth had when he founded the store 73 years ago continues today. It is known as "the old fashioned store with new ideas." Fruth Hardware has always filled an essential part of the shopping needs of Fostoria and area residents...and still does today. "You can get it at Fruth's when you can't find it anywhere else," although not their slogan, is literally true.

If there is a dilemma facing Fostoria's downtown merchants (and I am not say- ing there is) the practice of friendly service and a full line of merchandise with competitive prices, as practiced by Fruth Hardware through its history, is the answer. Other approaches cannot be a substitute, and will not produce results.

The accompanying photos will help readers recall Fruth business of the past and today as well as those associated with it.

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