NORTHPORT – In January 1909, several brothers living in the Northport area came together to open J.H. Anders Mercantile. The store still operates out of the same location on Main Avenue, although the name changed in 1921 to Anders Hardware to reflect a shift from general mercantile to hardware. A second location opened in 2002 in Tuscaloosa. The retailer employs 20 and sells more than 150,000 items for the home or farm.
“This a true family business, so every member of my family has contributed to this over the 110 years,” said Rich Anders, current general manager and the fourth generation to run the business. “I’ve got siblings and they have been in and out of the business over the years, but it just stuck with me. I just really enjoy it, and I still do after all of these years.”
Rich’s great-grandfather and one of the original brothers, Burwell Lewis Anders, led the company from the 1920s until he passed the reins to son James Burwell Anders. James’s son Richard Rodger Anders Sr., the current owner, grew up in the company then joined full time in 1970 after returning from Vietnam.
Rodger’s son Rich Anders recalls coming to the store as a child. “My dad would let me push the brooms up and down the aisles. We had a big ole cash register that had a loud bell, and he’d pop that cash register open and take 50 cents out and give it to me. I loved it. I’ve got the retail gene.” As he told the story of his first sales experience, he said, “I set up a little card table in the parking lot, and I sold rocks.” When his first customer purchased a rock for a dollar, he ran into the store to show his dad. “It was just in my blood. Not that my parents raised me to think that this was what I had to do. I went to college, and I have a business degree. It was up to me.”
The Alabama Retail Association today honored Anders Hardware Co. Inc. as an Alabama Centennial Retailer at the Alabama Retail Day awards ceremony in Birmingham. The business received a bronze plaque to place outside its store and a certificate suitable for display inside.
“Anders is a pretty, special place,” said Jim Page, president and chief executive officer of The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, who nominated the business. “It’s got all of the modern conveniences you would need in a hardware store, but when you walk in – the atmosphere, and obviously the customer service – is a throwback to simpler times.”
Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown said, “For a business to survive the dramatic changes of the past century is a remarkable achievement. It is fitting to celebrate the enduring first-century contributions Anders Hardware has made to Northport, Tuscaloosa and the surrounding communities.”
The Alabama Retail Association represents retailers, the largest private employer in the state of Alabama, before the Alabama Legislature and the U.S. Congress. Through sales of food, clothing, furniture, medicine and more, our 4,200 independent merchant and national company members touch almost every aspect of daily living. Since 1943, we’ve worked to promote what’s best for the retail industry in Alabama. Whether voicing the retail view when public policy is made, educating members about issues that impact them, negotiating rates for benefits and services or communicating the retail story, the Alabama Retail Association and its members are better together.