In 1977, Ronald Kaplan bought Ayers Variety & Hardware store from Mr. Ayers’ estate. Ayers was the beloved “mayor of Westover” — famous for handing out candy to neighborhood kids.
The Kaplan family has never looked back, and the employees pride themselves on being “old fashioned” in their ways. The counters and shelving are original. The building was originally a bank, and there are still bars over the back office window.
Kaplan and his daughter, Kristine Peterkin, who manages the store, say the customers are the best part of the job. “Being able to help someone solve their problems makes our day. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s not so easy, but that’s the challenge,” said Peterkin.
The customers love Ayers, too. “How often have you had a day when the customer didn’t say, ‘I love this store’?” Kaplan asked his daughter.
“Not very often. Not very often,” replied Peterkin with a smile. “We regularly hear people say that they should’ve come here first.”
Ayers’ first competitor was Home Depot, back in the late 1990’s when it opened in Seven Corners. Kaplan says their customers slowly came back. It’s Amazon, however, that’s proving to have a bigger bite.