Posner’s Hardware & Locksmith, which has been a mainstay in Bayside since 1939, is closing its doors for good.
On Wednesday, Nov. 21, longtime owner Joe Lamel will say goodbye to his beloved business at 47-28 Bell Blvd. The Bayside native and current Long Island resident started working at the shop as a college student and eventually became the owner.
According to the owner’s son Dana Lamel, they had been trying to find a buyer for the past two years as his then 69-year-old father was preparing for retirement. But they could not find one that suited their needs.
“People were interested, but it’s a very hard business to sell because we give knowledge along with the product,” said Dana Lamel. “It’s hard to find people who have the knowledge to be able to run the store properly.”
Before working at Posner’s, Joe Lamel was a stocker at the now-defunct E.J. Korvette discount department store but was unhappy with the job. In 1964, he saw an ad for the hardware and lock shop and started working for its original owner Ben Posner. Back then the store was located around the corner from its current location.
“I was always handy even though I didn’t know one-tenth of what I know now,” said Lamel. “I’ve been solving people’s problems for the past 54 years.”
Lamel bought the store from Posner’s son Morris in 1974 with his former business partner and moved it to a bigger and cheaper location on Bell Boulevard.
Their key and locksmith services had become a boon to their business, with city agencies, the police and local schools utilizing their services.
But Lamel said that online sellers like Amazon have been a detriment to business over the past few years. He recalls customers showing him items that he sells at the store, which online retailers were selling at competitive prices with next day delivery and free shipping. Lamel noted that the internet age has made it hard to compete.
“It’s sad that we can’t keep the store running for the community,” said Dana Lamel. “There will no longer be any store like us.”
One of Joe Lamel’s best memories from the past 54 years was doing business with “kids of people who were kids when I started.” He shares that he had second and third generation customers who would frequent Posner’s. Some of his old employees have also called him up to wish him luck and offer their help in the upcoming weeks.
His son put up a post in a Bayside Facebook group announcing they were going out of business, which amassed over 300 comments with customers’ well wishes and promises to stay in touch.
Now Lamel is looking forward to the future. He said that he and his wife plan to put their house up for sale and buy a used RV.
“We’re going to travel the country like we did in ’72 when we were a couple of hippies,” he said. “Everybody’s gotta do what’s best for them.”
He added that he’s been fortunate to have his wife, son, daughter and two grandkids most of whom have worked at the shop with him and came from California and Florida to help him out.
“I’ve been very lucky in this life,” Lamel said.