Don's Hardware: A Belleville fixture since 1969

July 29, 2013 

NAME: DON BUNJAK

Job: Owner, Don's Hardware at 1454 Boul Ave. in Swansea (234-8443)

Outlook: "It's not a problem to come to work in the morning."

Don Bunjak opened his hardware store in Belleville in 1969, and 44 years later is still coming in to work each morning. His first store was on Caseyville Road. He then moved to 8 Wade Square in town. In 2007, when he was 75, he relocated again to his current locale in Swansea. Today, at 81, he is still running things at the store than bears his name and has 12 employees, which include three generations of his family. He recently sat down to talk with business writer Will Buss about is long and continuing service:

Why did you go into this business?

"Everybody wants to be in business. That's what I wanted."

What did you do before you opened your store?

"I was Maytag service man for Eidman Appliance at 221 E. Main St. (in Belleville)."

What has changed the most about the hardware store business during the past 44 years?

"The mass merchants. They're tough competition."

What separates yours from the others?

"We wait on people."

What do you mean by that?

"If you go to the mass merchant or big-box store and try to find the clerk and you can't find them. We greet the people and help them find what they need."

What have you enjoyed most about your business?

"The people."

Why?

"I really don't know, I just really enjoy people."

What kind of hardware does your business specialize in?

"There are really two worlds. One is appliances and lawn mower parts and the other one is personalized plumbing parts."

Do you have customers as old as your business?

"Oh yeah, we have a couple of charge accounts that go back to day one."

Still like coming to work everyday?

"Yes."

Why not retire?

"I wouldn't know what to do if I wasn't here."

Do you have any future plans for the business?

"I have no ambition beyond the hardware store."

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 239-2526.

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