Bo hardware seeks local owner


Hoping to own a viable business in Bolinas? Perhaps the hardware store is your ticket.

The current owners, Tom and Karen Dibblee, have listed the store, including its current inventory and equipment, for $399,000, and committed to only advertising the sale locally through at least September. One of their contingencies is that the new owner continue to sell hardware. 

Ms. Dibblee, a Connecticut native, said that purchasing the store with her husband seven years ago has allowed them to live in Bolinas, where he has deep family roots. In recent years, his involvement has tapered off due to an illness, though Ms. Dibblee said it only sped up standing plans to retire by around six months.

The choice to sell is bittersweet, she said, but will allow her more time with her garden and grandchildren. She also serves on the board of the Bolinas Community Land Trust and does development work with the Kentfield School District.

“I love living in Bolinas, and owning the store has allowed us to do that, and to become involved in the town. The store has become a kind of hub, a positive reflection of all the good things in Bolinas,” Ms. Dibblee said this week from behind the register, keeping one eye on customers who might need help.

The sale includes 12 outbuildings—including the lumber racks and equipment storage—on the property. The storefront and land is leased from Mike Aiken, who also owns the adjacent laundromat and Resource Recovery Center and whom Ms. Dibblee called “a great landlord.” 

The sale price includes as much as $250,000 in inventory, and Ms. Dibblee is offering to stay for an interim period to assist in the transfer. “I want someone here to be able to afford it, and I think someone with some knowledge of the community is important,” she said.

The Dibblees themselves took on the store without a background in the hardware business, though they had an interest. He previously worked for Wells Fargo and later had his own firm, and she was a practicing psychotherapist and a jeweler with some retail experience.

“I’ve always been really interested in tools and how things are built,” she said. “I learned how to mix paint, cut keys, drive a loader and a forklift, and all that other stuff that you don’t ever think you are going to do when you are getting your psychotherapy degree—the practical side of life.” 

And she did discover some overlap between her first and second careers. “It’s all about helping people to help themselves, to solve their own problems,” she said. 

The psychology of consumerism is one of her continued interests; for example, she has noticed that people are buying fewer, but higher-quality, items than in the past and she has changed her sourcing accordingly. 

In response to growing tourism in Bolinas, the Dibblees expanded the types of goods they carry to include more kitchenware, holiday gifts and toys. They also took strides to make prices affordable in order to bring in more locals. 

“We’ve expanded essentially every department since we’ve been here, and added the whole front section of goods for the weekend customer,” Ms. Dibblee said. “But there’s still a lot of potential to go off in a whole new direction. For instance, there is a huge market for landscaping and gardening things that I’ve only begun to tap into.”

A lumberyard was opened on the site in 1987 and, soon after, the town’s hardware store moved to the lot from the Waterhouse Building next to the post office.

The Dibblees initially bought the store with another couple, Bill Hamilton and Robin Bradford, in 2011, but bought them out after several years. (Mr. Hamilton and Ms. Bradford now live in the East Bay.) Currently, the Dibblees employ four people part-time. Ms. Dibblee said that hopefully the new owners will want to keep them on, at least for an interim period.

“Nicer people you cannot find,” Sharron Casey, who has worked there for two years, said of her employers.

Mark Fraser is a longtime Bolinas resident and committed customer who says he wouldn’t be able to work on his house without the store. “They are very responsive: If they don’t have it, they will get it for you,” he said. “We need a local store, somewhere we can go in town without having to make a huge trip over the hill, or to Point Reyes. It’s an institution.”


If you’re interested in buying the hardware store, contact broker Mike Nova at (707) 526.1050 or (510) 708.6682.