For those living on the beachside in New Smyrna Beach, Coronado Hardware has been the place to go for everything from lightbulbs to paint brushes to gardening gloves for the last 40 years.
So, it’s easy to understand why the community has been upset by the news the hardware store will close its doors permanently in a few weeks.
“It’s an institution here. We’ve seen three generations of families come through here and it’s just heartbreaking,” said Andrea Bucher, owner of Island Dust Chasers in New Smyrna Beach. “We’re all local business owners and we all come here.”
Ms. Bucher had stopped in to have keys made, a service Coronado provides to customers on a daily basis.
Ralph Bingham of Bethune Beach is another local who is sad to see Coronado Hardware go.
“Now I’ll have to go all the way out to the big store and I don’t want to do that,” Mr. Bingham said. “I don’t like to go across the bridge. All my shopping is on this side.”
He had stopped in for lightbulbs.
“Lightbulbs, toilet fixtures, whatever; we’ve been getting stuff here for the past 30-some years that we’ve lived here,” he said.
Eckhardt “Ed” Weisenburger opened Coronado Hardware at 716 E. Third Ave. in 1980. Mr. Weisenberger was a German immigrant who moved with his wife, Heide, and their family from New Jersey to Florida in 1975 to escape the cold weather of the Northeast.
“He didn’t like the cold,” said Nadine Wosenske, Mr. Weisenberger’s daughter. “He always made fun that he was a southerner because he came from southern Germany. He came to Florida on a vacation and he fell in love with it.”
Shortly after moving to Florida, Mr. Weisenburger bought Edgewater Red and White at U.S. 1 and Park Avenue, a small grocery store and deli that sat between a barber shop and hardware store. But, according to Ms. Wosenske, he dreamed of opening a different type of business. “He would say, ‘One day I’m going to open a hardware store. The profit margin is higher and the stock doesn’t spoil.’”
Mr. Weisenburger ran Coronado Hardware until 1997, when he opened another hardware store called Anchor Hardware at 726 U.S. 1 in Oak Hill. At that time, he ran Anchor and his wife took over management of Coronado. And for some of Coronado’s loyal customers, seeing Heide is what they will miss the most.
“I hate that she’s leaving,” said Jane McConnell of New Smyrna Beach. “She’s been very good. She loaned something for plumbing when I first moved here. It was just a loan and we brought it back. I will miss her.”
Ms. McConnell said Ms. Weisenburger brought a special feel to Coronado Hardware that made shopping there an enjoyable experience. “This was fun and she was fun.”
Mr. Weisenburger died in 2005 and his daughter, Ms. Wosenske, took over management of Anchor. In 2016, Ms. Weisenburger started reducing her time at Coronado and preparing for retirement. Now that her mom is completely retired, Ms. Wosenske is left to manage both stores. “I wish I could be in two places at once,” she said, “but it doesn’t work.”
Upon announcing the closing on its Facebook page, Coronado explained to its followers that the store will be closing because Heide is now retired and “enjoying her time off” and that keeping both Anchor and Coronado open has been “exhausting.”
Anchor Hardware and Storage in Oak Hill will remain open with a full line of hardware supplies as well as fishing needs. Coronado, which is the only independent hardware store in New Smyrna Beach, will continue to sell hardware, fishing supplies and beach items, many at reduced prices, until it closes in a few weeks. Store hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday.