With Grisanti Hardware's closure, Atascadero loses part of its heart

Special to The TribuneDecember 31, 2012 

Lon Allan


When I moved to Atascadero in the summer of 1966 and discovered I was living in a very rural setting, I quickly found need of a rake, shovel, axe and tree saw. So I discovered Grisanti Hardware, located at that time almost across the street from the post office.

I found what I wanted, and at the same time befriended Joe and Olga Grisanti. They settled in Atascadero in 1947 to open a retail hardware store that sold everything from paint, tools and rope to frying pans, toys, lawnmowers, ammunition and just about everything else you can think of. Their first store was in the Golden Way Block and then moved in 1962 to the corner of Entrada and Olmeda avenues.

As testimony to their inventory, I spotted a skate key hanging on a hook behind the counter a few years ago. I bought it for a dollar and it now hangs on a hook over my workbench. As a child, a skate key was a vital part of our daily ritual of skating on those steel-wheeled shoes.

Since Joe and Olga’s death, the store has been run chiefly by their son Rick and his sister, Rosemary. They have found it difficult to remain a viable downtown business in these difficult times. On Monday, Grisanti Hardware is closing its doors.

When my first wife and I opened a small plant shop many years ago, we got a bouquet of flowers and a nice note from only one other business in town, Grisanti Hardware. Joe and Olga wished us luck with our new adventure.

Joe was vociferous about almost any given subject, whether it was the role of government or lack of parking in the downtown. One of the first public parking lots was created in the downtown to help soothe Joe’s ire, just behind his shop and next door to the city’s first fire station.

But he — and Olga — were the most kind-hearted couple you could ever hope to meet and donated generously to many fundraisers and to their church.

I’m always sad when a longtime business closes its doors. Earlier this year the community saw the demise of DeCou Lumber, which had been in business here for 75 years. We also lost the Tool Outlet.

When small local businesses are lost, the community loses a part of its heart.

Lon Allan's column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.

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