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The Pensacola Hardware Company is proud to be the oldest business in Pensacola, one of the oldest businesses in Florida, and one of the 50 oldest businesses in the United States. We have succeeded in business since our founding in 1851 because of our commitment to quality and customer service.
The Pensacola Hardware Company was founded by Albert Lord (“A.L.”) Avery in 1851. A.L. Avery opened the first storefront downtown at the corner of Palafox and Intendencia. A.L. Avery’s son, Albert Miner (“A.M.”) Avery, joined his father in the business in 1876. A.M. Avery, born in 1852 in Pensacola, grew up attending local Pensacola schools, and attended college at the University of the South in Tennessee. He married May Clara Grant in 1878, was a Pensacola City Alderman, and served as President of the Mutual Building & Loan and Director of the American National Bank. During that time, the Pensacola Hardware Company operated as the “A.L. & A.M. Avery Hardware Company.”
At some point after the elder Avery retired, A.M. Avery took on a business partner, Mr. Woolfolk. The business then became known as Avery and Woolfolk and operated under that name until 1889 when Mr. Woolfolk retired. After Mr. Woolfolk’s retirement, A.M. Avery ran and grew the business as the sole proprietor. The business which then became known as “A.M. Avery Hardware” became known throughout Pensacola for its wide array of products and expertise. An early advertisement in the 1896 Directory of Pensacola detailed the wide array of products offered at the store:
A.M. Avery- Hardware: Stoves, grates, fire brick, axes, spades and shovels,
paint, oil and window glass.
On Halloween night of 1905, a fire started in the local confectionery and destroyed 80% of downtown Pensacola. Losses were estimated at $300,000.00, the equivalent of more than $7.6 million dollars today. The fire destroyed nearly all structures from Garden Street to Romana Street. Records show that A.M. Avery Hardware was significantly damaged in the fire.
On March 31, 1906, A.M. Avery & Sons merged with Gordon & Brown Hardware Company, which was also significantly damaged in the fire. The business was re-incorporated as the Avery Hardware & Supply company with a capital stock of $150,000. The business relocated to become the first occupant of the Masonic Temple, which was built in 1897. The officers of the business were A.M. Avery, President; A.M. Avery Jr., Vice President; O.M. Gordon, W.W. Varn, C.W. Lamar, and T.A. Jennings.
In 1908, Mr. W.A. Ray moved to Pensacola from Geneva, Alabama and joined the firm. At some point, he bought out Avery’s share of the business and it became known as the W.A. Ray Hardware Company. The wholesale department was located in the old Bonded Warehouse building at 710 South Palafox, where there is still a seal in the floor. The retail store continued at the Masonic Temple and became Ray’s Corner Hardware.
A.M. Avery died in 1920. In recognition of the Avery family’s contributions to the city, Pensacola named Avery Street after them.
In 1921, after World War One ended, R.G. Martin (grandfather of current owners Jimmy and Martin Coe) came to Pensacola as a bank examiner and purchased the hardware company. Since 1921, the Pensacola Hardware Company has been owned and operated by the family of R.G. Martin.
The Pensacola Hardware Company has endured many changes throughout the history of our country and its many economic changes. Under the ownership of R.G. Martin and his partner A.J. Butt, the store endured the Great Depression. During World War II, when most of the men in the business were sent to the war, the store employed mostly women to work and maintain the business. After the war, most of the men returned to work at the store.
James (“Jim”) M. Coe (father of current owners Jimmy and Martin Coe) came to work for the Pensacola Hardware Company in 1963. Jim Coe was born on February 23, 1928, to John Moreno Coe and Evalyn Shipley Coe. Called “Mansfield” throughout his life by his family, he was the fourth of five brothers and sisters. He attended Pensacola High School, Marion Military Institute and the University of Florida. After serving two years in the United States Army, he joined Soule Construction and oversaw the building of concrete and wooden bridges across the Panhandle of Florida. On June 25, 1955, he married Ellen Roberts Martin, daughter of R.G. Martin.
By 1963, Ellen & Jim had three children with a fourth on the way. One Saturday morning, Mr. Martin called him in his office. After some small talk about working for Mr. Soule, R.G. Martin very seriously told Jim, “Your wife needs you at home, if you keep working out of town much longer, the children would not know you and the dog would bite you when you did get home.” Jim agreed and told R.G. Martin that if he would pay him enough to feed and clothe the family and the dog, he would be glad to work for Pensacola Hardware.
Just like that, in January of 1963, Jim Coe began his hardware career.
Through his business leadership, Pensacola Hardware prospered. The Company responded to industry changes and transitioned to computers under his leadership in 1984, when he became President. He also brought Sally (his son Jimmy’s wife) on board to open and run the houseware/giftware side of the business. Jim Coe died on February 26, 2010.
The business is now owned and operated by Jim’s two sons James M. Coe, Jr. and Martin Moreno Coe.
As the market has changed over the years, so has the inventory of the Pensacola Hardware. Until the 1950s, in addition to hardware, the Pensacola Hardware also sold toys, appliances, farm supplies, fine china, and housewares. With the advent of department stores and strip malls in the suburbs, the store discontinued selling toys, appliances, and fine china. In response to pressure from big box retailers, the Pensacola Hardware now focuses a large portion of its business on industrial hardware and construction supplies.
Today, the Pensacola Hardware continues to sell a full line of hardware and PPG paints, focusing on commercial and industrial contractor supplies, and an upscale houseware and giftware department. We have two websites. One, www.pensacolahardware.com , services the contractor side of the business. The other, www.pensacolahardware.net, services the houseware/giftware side of the business.
Since February 2010, the Pensacola Hardware has been under the guidance of President James M. Coe, Jr., and Secretary/Treasurer Martin M. Coe. After graduation from the University of Alabama 2010, James Mansfield Coe, III, the great grandson of R.G. Martin, joined the business.
We are proud of our past and present, and we are looking to the future!