Five generations and 150 years
Abel, Debbie and Allan Boyer of A.F. Boyer Hardware and Guns are celebrating 150 years of business in Slatington. KELLEY ANDRADE/TIMES NEWS
AF Boyer Hardware is celebrating 150 years in business.
After two world wars, the brief Spanish-American War, the Great Depression and the invention of the Internet, A.F. Boyer Hardware and Guns has defied the odds and kept its doors open in the Slatington borough for 150 years.
“A lot of people hear about the wooden floors, high ceilings, the nostalgic hardware store feel. We still have everything in wooden draws. We have everything from little quarter-inch to 2-foot bolts here,” said owner Allan Boyer.
“Sporting goods, firearms, that’s where we are known for. People come from over 50 miles here,” he said.
The sporting and home goods shop has been passed down for five generations since just after the establishment of the Slatington borough in 1868.
“They were pioneers and lived day-by-day. We sold the basic necessities of daily life,” said Boyer.
Established as a general hardware and quarry supply store by the two Boyer brothers, Able and Henry, the store was located uptown for 20 years.
A midtown move was made before the store settled into its current 130 Main St. location.
In 1908, the store was taken over by Henry’s son Abner when the young man was just 16.
It was Abner who purchased Farber’s 5&10 Store after it went out of business.
Boyer’s has sold goods in the same location ever since.
Abner Boyer would go on to marry Helena and have two children, one son Alden and a daughter Ann Marie.
The store was passed down to Alden, who ran it with his wife Dorothy (Waidlich) before shipping off to serve in World War II.
“It was after he came back from the war that he started selling firearms,” said Allan.
“After the Depression a lot of stores were going out of business. It’s really a story about how they bucked the odds and kept going.”
Alden passed away at the age of 52, leaving Dorothy, two daughters and son Allan to keep the store running.
Not only did the men work hard to keep the doors open over the century and a half but Allan’s mother rolled up her sleeves after his father’s death and kept the lights on and sales going as Allan finished school.
“My mom made me stay in school,” Allan said.
“She was quite a lady. In the ’60s you didn’t have a lot of women running a business. But she was a mover and shaker. She taught me everything she knew,” he said.
Allan started working in the store at age 15 under the school work program and graduated from Slatington early.
“There’s always been a strong women in our family,” said Allan.
“Debbie (his wife of 33 years) has a strong work ethic. If something needs to be done, she gets it done.”
Allan and his wife, Debbie, (Masters) purchased the store from Dorothy in the early 1980s, when Allan took his father’s lead and, “really focused on sporting goods and firearms. That’s what really grew the store, the firearms.”
According to Allan’s son Abel, “It was mostly men coming in for sporting goods before and the women would come in and shop for wicker baskets and Dutch ovens, cast-iron pans.”
“Now the women are every bit as interested in firearms as the men,” said Allan.
“We’re now selling to the grandchildren of people I knew when I was younger. It’s easily been four generations who’ve come in here,” said Allan.
Allan says the store’s success stems from a love of family and community.
“We did it as a family. Some people go to Florida every year and we didn’t do things like that. We just enjoy being together, working and being in the community. That’s what our life revolves around, and service to helping with the fire companies and community groups, the Boy Scouts,” he said.
Allan, along with the long line of previous generations, have lived in Slatington their whole lives.
“You learn from the generation before. Each generation tries to teach everything they know to the next, there were never kept secrets. Financial stability was always taught,” Allan said.
“For me it was always rewarding, coming in and learning, you learn life lessons here like how to treat people, how to save money, things that aren’t taught in school,” he said.
Allan and Debbie had two sons: Asher, who died at age 16 in a tragic car accident, and Abel, who will one day take over the family business.
“It’s big shoes to fill,” Abel said.
“But I grew up here. They had my crib right here in the office. I’ve always been around all the community members. People say what do you like about your job and I say being able to see friends and the community.”
Abel is a 2016 East Stroudsburg University business management graduate who said his real-world experience helped him in attaining his degree.
“I was home every weekend keeping in touch with what was going on here,” Abel said.
The youngest A.F. Boyer has helped to bring the nostalgia into the 2000s with modern touches, using social media platforms and owning the towns first digital marque.
“The Internet age is new and I try to keep us in it, keep us competitive,” said Abel.
“It was getting basic website together, social media building is a big part of the business now.
“I just started doing basic hardware sales for the community. I enjoy both parts of the business sporting goods and hardware,” Able said.
“It’s a lot more competitive, the Internet has crushed a lot of brick-and-mortar stores,” said Allan.
“It’s still a good community, Slatington has a huge amount to offer,” he said.
The Boyers will host a 150th celebration the first weekend of June with manufacturers coming to the store, special sales and activities for the community.