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Saunders Hardware Closing after Serving the Community for 131 Years

Time to Retire - 25% off Everything in Store

By Jessica Kline, Publisher + Editor Macaroni Kid Clifton-Montclair May 10, 2024

Not many Montclair residents realize what an institution Saunders Hardware has been in the community. Dating back 131 years, it first opened its doors at 607 Valley Road in 1893 as AA SIGLER AND SON. In 1931, it moved from its original location to 627 Valley Road. Over those many decades, the store changed names thrice, became Saunders HARDWARE IN 1948, and changed hands five times. 

Tom Vultee, the owner for the past 26 years, who bought the store from Dick Saunders in July of 1998, has been in the hardware business for 40 years, starting as an employee at Thompsen’sHardware. He then bought South End Paint and Hardware on Orange Road, which he liquidated during the pandemic. “Now,” says Vultee, “It’s time to go fishing!” 

Over the past two-plus decades, Tom has had many employees come and go, including three nephews and three grandchildren. He currently employs three septuagenarians and an octogenarian. Saunders has provided first jobs for many high school and college students. Tom has been a mentor to many, and some employees have become lifelong friends. “When you work with the same people day in, day out over several years, they become friends. That is something that I will care about and take with me for the rest of my life.”

Being in retail is all about creating and maintaining relationships, which Vultee feels blessed to have experienced.  

He has decades-long relationships with some customers, sharing stories about the birth of children and grandchildren, exchanging news about health issues, graduations, and passing...and of course, making people laugh. Dick Saunders was a master at that, and Tom took over without missing a beat. Some of his famous (or maybe infamous) lines include responses to phone inquiries:

“Where are you located?”  “I’m standing right here by the phone.”

“What time do you close?” “Five minutes before you get here.”

Vultee says that what he will miss most is his wonderful customers. The doors will close soon, but they are not closed yet. He invites people to stop at 627 Valley Road in Upper Montclair to say goodbye and take advantage of all the great values.