Springs, screws, screens, soil-- one local, small business in Ocean Beach seems to be a one-stop shop for all things home improvement.
Jenae and Joe Kuchman have lived in the Ocean Beach neighborhood of San Diego for more than a decade. For as long as they have been residents in the area, they have been customers of OB Hardware.
Now, they get to call the business their own.
OB Hardware has been on Newport Avenue since 1919. It is a spot for locals to swing by when they need a specific light bulb, advice on types of paint or even a window screen repaired, among other things.
“The community relies on this store heavily, so it’s important to have it here,” said Joe Kuchman.
The store has had a small number of owners throughout its more than one century in business. The most recent owner of the store, prior to September, relocated and needed to find a seller. That, or the store was at risk of closing.
Jenae Kuchman, a marketing professional who grew up in San Diego, said that when she and her husband learned the store would need new owners to step in, they decided to take a chance.
“The more and more we talked about it and the more we got involved, we met with the owner, the previous owners, and things just started to click honestly,” said Jenae Kuchman. “One thing led to another and here we are.”
The pair admits to not having experience owning a retail store before, but they feel OB Hardware is a resource for the community, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to keep it going.
“I think we got caught up on the nostalgia, the idea of the store, being a part of it,” said Joe Kuchman. He mentioned that he hopes to see the couple’s two young kids at the store after school, as well as his dad who is a retired architect. “It feels like an old TV show,” he said.
“We definitely wanted to preserve it for the community,” added Jenae Kuchman. “We really couldn’t see it close, honestly.”
The response from shoppers, who are also some of their neighbors in Ocean Beach, has been largely positive.
“It’s been amazing. People are coming in and hugging us. We get handshakes every day, people are congratulating us and thanking us for buying the store,” said Joe Kuchman.
Despite the praise, they say it has not all been easy. The pair has been owners for less than one month and say there is a learning curve when it comes to some store operations. However, they have a team of seasoned staff members to help them through.
“We’ve had people here who have been super gracious and helping us along the way, figuring out how many nuts and bolts we need, down to the last little thing,” said Jenae Kuchman. “Most of them will not only help you find what you need, but show you how to use it, what you need to do to install it, whatever,” added Joe Kuchman.
Jenae and Joe Kuchman say they plan to modernize the store’s point of sale system to improve the inventory and check-out process for customers. They also hope to host community workshops within the next few months, ranging from teaching projects to kids to potentially walking people through building their own camper van.
“We’ve heard stories about people who grew up in this store, who’s grandparents took them to this store, and it’s really heartwarming to know that we’re kind of keeping that going,” said Jenae Kuchman.